Behind The Beans: Rafiki

Our first bean had to be something special; a bean that would make our foray into the roasting world a strong one. We’re so proud of Rafiki, a single origin AA espresso bean.

Rafiki is a Swahili word meaning friend, and it seemed fitting to name our first single origin after all the new faces that we meet as we grow the Saazaa community. Here’s the story behind the bean.



The origin

Rafiki is grown on the slopes of Mt Kenya in Kirinyaga country. Coffee beans grown in this area are unique because of their high altitude. The cool temperatures ensure the beans ripen slowly, developing sweeter and more acidic notes, with complex flavours and aromas. 




These beans are farmed organically which has been proved to help the plants resist diseases, rather than needing to use copious amounts of chemicals to sustain them.

Pests are controlled by use of traps and our second favourite beverage: wine. The grape juice is poured into bottle traps to attract the harmful insects. Fertiliser is supplemented by the use of goat manure.

Embracing organic farming has helped improve the yield and quality of the coffee beans.



The process

These beans follow a washed process, which entails de-pulping them. De-pulping is the separation of the bean from the flesh of the fruit. After this, we’re left with a sticky and slimy substance on the bean called mucilage. The beans are then fermented in water for around two days, with the mucilage still on – a crucial part of the process as the sugars in the mucilage play an important role in developing the flavours in the bean.

After the fermentation/wash, the beans are then washed again to remove all the excess mucilage. Then, they’re dried either by sunlight or a mechanical process. After the beans have dried they are then stored and milled to remove any unwanted parts before they are finally shipped off.

Once they hit our roastery, it’s time for our team to start testing different roasting profiles. Then we cup, we roast some more… and cup again. Once that ideal profile is hit, we’ve got our bean. We wrote about the roasting process in more detail over here.




The flavour notes

Rafiki has a wine-like acidity, silky body and chocolatey after-notes. It’s a perfect medium roast with a full body and a delicious creaminess. The beans also have a beautiful fruity brightness to them which is a classic note of Kenyan coffee that we were careful not to lose in the roast profile.


When enjoying these beans in a milk based coffee, you’ll notice tasting notes of toffee, almond, cherry, cinnamon and chocolatey undertones towards the end of your sip.

Rafiki as a long black or an espresso means tasting notes of green apple, cherry and brown sugar.



Best brewing methods…

Rafiki is an espresso bean which means it’s best used for espresso, stove top, aeropress or plunger brew styles.

Come into our coffee shop to enjoy a tasting, or find Rafiki at our online store in 250g, 500g and 1kg bags, or via a coffee subscription. You can also find equipment for all your at-home brewing needs via our online coffee shop.