In 2007, Kuma Coffee officially entered the Seattle coffee scene, mainly roasting for a small circle of friends and to sell at Farmer’s markets. Within two years, he’d invested in a beautiful vintage roaster and staked his claim as a well-loved local favorite. But Mark Barany, Kuma’s owner and head roaster, began his journey into the world of coffee much earlier: in 1995, when he was a child, his parents moved the family to Kenya. Mark recalls his time in Kenya as the very beginnings of his passion for coffee, specifically bright, fruity African roasts.
Naturally, Kuma Coffees are typically light-roasted, single origins with tart, fruit-forward profiles: no spicy sumatras or dark blends here. Tasting notes like “honeydew melon”, “cherry candy”, “white grape”, and “honey” are not uncommon. Layered flavors change as they cool: you’ll find florals on the front end, a lingering sugar on the finish, and a cornucopia of fruit in the middle. But while very light-roasted, Kuma coffees have tremendous balance: they’re never one-note, boring, or screw-up-your-mouth sour.
It takes a special bean to produce such bright, distinct flavors-- in a light roast, there’s nowhere to hide-- and Mark takes his selection process very seriously, often landing upon very small, very limited lots. Sometimes he buys just a few hundred pounds of coffee from a farm, or less. If you’re a long-time fan of Kuma, you’ll begin to see the same names from year to year: loyalty and relationships are important tenets of Kuma’s coffee philosophy. That said, act fast: if you hit upon a coffee you particularly like, order more while it’s here! He can cycle through new microlots so quickly, sometimes, that they are literally brewing today, gone tomorrow… and every time we visit the roastery, his cupping table is crowded with dozens of tiny bean samples as he chooses that next special coffee...
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