SL28, Ruiru 11
Cherries hand sorted, depluped and washed multiple times, then dried slowly on raised beds
Why We Love It
We're extremely lucky to be working again this year with world class coffee producer, Peter Mbature and his wife Gladys. Their coffee reflects the classic Kenyan flavors of intensely savory-sweet blackberry, gripping acidity of meyer lemon, and a delicate finish of floral jasmine tea.
Kenya has been called the Bordeaux of coffee, representing some of the best terroir in the entire world. These are the kinds of coffees you don’t easily forget, and in recent years, it’s become increasingly difficult to find Kenyan coffees that display the intensity and complex flavors we’ve come to know and expect.
Here at Wonderstate Coffee, we believe in slowing down and appreciating the cup that’s in front of you. Peter’s coffee is remarkable! We hope you'll join us in savoring each sip and recognizing the incredible coffee Peter and Gladys have brought to our cups.
About the Producer
We were introduced to Peter Mbature back in 2013 during a sourcing trip to Kenya. If you’re familiar with the lore of specialty coffee, you may already know that Kenya produces some of the most coveted and sought after coffee in the world. Before even meeting Peter, we had been told that he was a one of a kind producer - completely passionate and dedicated to producing world class coffee. This is a huge reputation to live up to, no doubt, but we were immediately captivated by Peter’s presence, which can best be described as inspiring and humbling.
During British colonial rule, law stated that native Kenyans could only cultivate a mere 100 coffee trees at a time. This is almost comedic in its cruelty, as 100 trees will produce a meager amount of coffee. It was in this context that Peter’s grandfather, John Njiru Mbature, began the Kamavindi Coffee Estate. Over the decades as colonial laws changed, the estate grew in size and quantity of trees, and the passion John Mbature had for his coffee was passed onto his grandson, Peter, who now owns and operates the estate.
Today, Peter’s farm has grown to include over ten-thousand coffee trees, most of which is the prized SL28 variety. This is the variety that has largely given Kenyan coffee the distinct intensity of flavor we crave. During our visit in early 2023, we spent time with Peter and Gladys on their farm and saw firsthand the innovative techniques he is using to create such phenomenal coffees. Never settling for good enough, Peter’s coffee continues to surprise us each year, making it one of our all time favorites.
About The Coffee
The real question is what makes Kenyan coffees so special? Why do coffee roasters around the world seem to keep coming back to Kenya? Simply put, the best Kenyan coffees are singular in experience and flavor. They don’t taste like coffee from anywhere else, and that’s enough of a reason to get stoked on these coffees each year.
The flavor of Kenyan coffee can be traced back to the variety of trees being cultivated. In the 1930’s, Scott Laboratories, a research center, conducted trials on numerous coffee varieties, testing heirloom trees from Yemen, Tanzania, and the Island of Reunion (which was then called Bourbon). Several selections were made, and the trees were named “SL” for Scott Laboratories, and then the trial number. In this case, selections 28 and 34 were among the best, and continue to be grown across Kenya today.
Peter primarily cultivates SL28 alongside a newer hybrid variety called Ruiru 11. We know firsthand from tasting countless Kenyan coffees the SL28 variety provides the intensity of fruit flavor we love, and that newer hybrid varieties tend to taste different…not always bad, but not as good as those classic SL28 trees. While they come with their own set of challenges, SL28 is still recognized as the most desirable variety cultivated in Kenya, providing us with the savory-sweet, tart and intense berry flavor that reminds us of blackberries and currants. When combined with Peter’s dedication and innovation, this variety really shines in the cup, taking on a floral tone that’s very uncommon in Kenyan coffees.
Alongside SL28, Peter and Gladys have begun cultivating the Gesha variety, which has gained global recognition and notoriety because of it’s intensely floral and sugary-sweet flavors. We’re lucky enough to be purchasing this variety alongside the larger SL28 lot. Be on the lookout for a special release of Peter and Glady’s gesha!
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