Kenya

Kenya update - First Origin Trip 2018

We visited Kenya in February, starting at the KenyaCof lab in Karen, and wrapping up in C. Dormans LTD in Nairobi. For ten exciting days we cupped the best of this year’s Kenya crops, and found the truly unique and delicious gems amongst so much great coffee. 
 

Order your samples

We are excited to provide you with nothing but the best of what Kenya has to offer. These stellar coffees should be on the water very shortly. Contact Nico in Europe, or Colleen and Sal in the US to request samples.
 

KenyaCof

It was my first trip to this origin, and I could not have imagined the logistics behind buying coffee in an auction system, and what that means for sample storage. The first day I walked into KenyaCof I was blown away by the thousands of sample bags that filled the office. To me, it looked like compete chaos, but the wizardly staff at KenyaCof could have located a sample in a second, and told us exactly how much was remaining. I am truly impressed with the professionalism at KenyaCof, including Managing Director, Mie Hansen, who hosted us in a multitude of ways, even picking us up from the hotel every day, to Sample Roaster extraordinaire James, and everyone in between.

Days one and two at KenyaCof were spent screening and pairing down the massive offerings list, setting up the final table for day three. There was an overwhelming number of coffees to choose from and I am thrilled with what we’ve selected.

 Decisions are hard - Will (left, Tandem Coffee Roasters), Ondrej (middle, Doubleshot) and Robert grapple with the difficult task of selecting the best of the best. 

Decisions are hard - Will (left, Tandem Coffee Roasters), Ondrej (middle, Doubleshot) and Robert grapple with the difficult task of selecting the best of the best. 

 A small fraction of the KenyaCof offerings

A small fraction of the KenyaCof offerings

Dormans

The start of the next week brought a short trek over to the historic C. Dormans Ltd lab. Dormans Coffee holds such a dear place in my heart, and it has long been my dream to visit their famous facility. How bittersweet it was to have made it to the lab in its last year before they move to a bigger and better facility. While you can’t take the history of the building with you, you can take the people and know-how that make C. Dormans the coffee powerhouse it is today. I had the fortune of seeing some drawings of the planned facility, and it is going to be spectacular.

The lab was buzzing with activity when we arrived. The plan, as before, was two days of pre-screening coffees, followed by a final day of top selections. Again, we were overwhelmed with the quantity of delicious coffee, and the skill of their roaster of 28 years, Samuel, whose consistency is awe-inspiring. Raphael and the rest of the Dormans team were thrilled of the quality of coffee available in the auction this year, and noted the significant improvement over last.
 

Price increase

While quality is definitely up, yields in Kenya this year are down, and that will affect prices.

Bridget Carrington, Managing Director at Dormans, explained that production is down around 20-30% on the main crop. “The New York futures market is much lower, so the coffee that is traded deferentially is more expensive,” she said. However she also agreed that quality is a better this year than last. “The best coffees continue to fetch healthy premiums over and above the rest."

 Raphael (far right) and his team at Dormans working hard to provide us with delicious coffee

Raphael (far right) and his team at Dormans working hard to provide us with delicious coffee

Ruiri Coffee Fair

This trip was strictly about cupping, so we didn’t have time to visit any farms or washing stations. However we did have the chance to see the Ruiri Coffee Fair. Don’t bother Googling it. I tried. The website doesn’t link to booth reservations, hotel offerings or a symposium program. You won’t find much more than a date and time for last year’s event, and a Facebook group that suggests that two people attended. But I can assure you it exists and more than two people were there.

In fact, there were perhaps 300 people from Kiambu County, which may be a small fraction of the attendance of an event like the SCA Specialty Coffee Expo, but for those 300 people it was possibly the most important event on their calendar. As well as discovering the latest technology tractors, depulpers and roasting machines, those 300 people were there to share and receive information. In our hyper-connected countries we sometimes take for granted our access to information, anytime, anywhere. For these farmers, the Ruiri Coffee Fair may be the place to receive some small offering of knowledge that changes their coffee, and thus, their lives.

 The booths were buzzing with eager attendees

The booths were buzzing with eager attendees

 Sustainability and financing seminar at the Ruiri Coffee Fair

Sustainability and financing seminar at the Ruiri Coffee Fair

Cultural cupping exchange

Cupping in Kenya was also a transformative experience for me. On this trip we were joined by a number of colleagues from across the globe; Will of Tandem Coffee Roasters in the United States, Ondrej from Doubleshot in Czech Republic, Stanley of Green Coffee Gallery in Taiwan, and Nicholas of Camera Obscura in Russia.

It is always a joy and a revelation to travel with coffee professionals from different parts of the world. As a coffee buyer, even a single cupping session with someone from another culture can yield information that gives you an invaluable outlook into another market, an experience that you just can’t get secondhand. To spend multiple days with them and see how the process works in their head, session-to-session, can add a layer of understanding that allows you to grow you as a professional. You start to re-evaluate your own understanding of coffee. I’m very grateful for each time I get this opportunity. Thanks, all. 

Matt

SCA x CCS 2017

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We will be cupping a curated selection of our coffees: available, soon to be available, along with some stunners that simply need revisiting.

Date: Sunday, April 23, 2017
Time: 10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: The Cupping Exchange, Room 618
 

Honduras

From the currently harvesting. Showcasing long-time friends and new acquaintances from Santa Barbara, which produces some of our most interesting Central American offerings coming from some of our longest-standing relationships.

 Moreno Family, El Cedral, Santa Barbara

Moreno Family, El Cedral, Santa Barbara

Guatemala

A selection of some of the most versatile coffees we offer. Featuring cups from Antigua & Huehuetenango.

 Luis Pedro Zelaya Zamora, Bella Vista Mill

Luis Pedro Zelaya Zamora, Bella Vista Mill


Kenya

Charles Cardoso from Kenyacof will be on hand to discuss the flight of freshly harvested coffees (on offer), along with the ups and downs of the just completed harvest season.

 Mary Maina, Manyeki Estate

Mary Maina, Manyeki Estate


Ethiopia

From mainstays to our first international presentation of newly established relationships with cooperatives in the Agaro region.

 Asnake Nigat of Kata Muduga Union

Asnake Nigat of Kata Muduga Union


Colombia

Alejandro Renjifo of Fairfield Trading will accompany the presentation of our Acevedo lots, freshly arrived and meticulously curated during the Acevedo Cup Competition from December 2016.

 Alejandro Renjifo (R) with Acevedo Cup winner Fernando Bustos (C) & Eduardo Urquina of Fairfield Trading (L)

Alejandro Renjifo (R) with Acevedo Cup winner Fernando Bustos (C) & Eduardo Urquina of Fairfield Trading (L)


Burundi

Ben Carlson from Long Miles Coffee joins us as we cup and reflect on how stunning these Burundian coffees have been and what it took to get them there.

 Ben Carlson (L) with Jeremie Nakimuhana (C) from Long Miles with a farmer from Mikuba Hill

Ben Carlson (L) with Jeremie Nakimuhana (C) from Long Miles with a farmer from Mikuba Hill


Sal, Martell, Robert and David will be on hand to talk about the coffees, the origins, and also CCS, our model and fielding inquiries/interest on working together.

Our session is open to the public. The room is set for 30 people, with 25/30 spots already confirmed.

Get in touch with Sal to secure these last spots. He will also be happy to schedule a meeting with you should you not be able to attend the cupping.

Kenya: The Backward Rise of the Small Estate Farm

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Connecting quality coffee with specific farms and their owners has become the specialty coffee norm, which emphasizes cup score, long-term relationships, and transparency. This bodes well for smallholders and roasters alike, as these expectations point to an evolving market; one that is slowly shifting away from purely speculative pricing and is now favouring connections between specific people selling and buying to/from one another.

Kenya, then, has been anomalous from other specialty origins in that much of its best quality lots are sold through a centralized auction and come from cooperatives serving up to 2000 smallholder members each. But contrary to other origins, many of Kenya’s coffee farmers’ cooperatives are impressively run organizations. Many of them actually accomplish what so many cooperatives in other origins fail to do: provide services and disseminate information that help farmers grow great coffee which in turn attracts buyers willing to pay good prices. Kenyan coffee cooperatives are in fact so successful, that some of the highest quality lots in the world come from them: AA and AB lots produced by cooperative factories are consistently the most expensive commercially traded coffees in the world.

To understand how and why coops became so strong, let’s go back to the beginnings of how Kenyan coffee was traded.

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A Brief History of the Kenyan Coffee Auction

In the beginning (pre-Depression era), coffee was sold by London traders who took up to six months after the coffee was shipped before paying the farmers. Farmers had to rely on banks to finance them during this period, as well as pay for shipment costs. Further depleting their returns was the fact that coffee was initially dry milled in London, rather than in-country.

By 1926, the Coffee Planters’ Union was established with the aim of helping producers both make better coffee and more money from it. The 1930s was a time of rapid changes within the Kenyan coffee industry with various groups trying different kinds of cooperative and marketing systems, with the result that the Planters’ Union began splitting into smaller cooperative societies. The Thika Planter’s Cooperative Union became the largest and most dominant of these factions, which eventually was replaced by the Coffee Board of Kenya (KPCU), due to political lobbying from farmers and traders.

Until this point, the various planters’ unions and then the Coffee Board of Kenya had focused their efforts on gaining control over processing and curing coffee. So far left out of these movements was the gaining of genuine control over the marketing of Kenyan coffee. The auction was thus borne from the impetus of Kenyan farmers who wanted to gain control over the marketing of their coffee.

The first auction was established in 1931 but did not overthrow the prominence of the London traders. Several other auctions followed to varying degrees of success until in 1937, when the Nairobi Coffee Exchange was opened to widespread support. In addition, a nationwide standard in grading was developed in 1938. This became controlled by the KPCU.

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The Rise of the Coffee Smallholder

Land ownership rights will always determine how a coffee sector is structured. With Kenya’s colonial history, early coffee production was represented and controlled by colonial land owners. In 1946, the government (still colonial) began to open rules for who could grow crops where and actively began encouraging indigenous Kenyans to grow cash crops, including coffee.

Then in 1954, a local chief got coffee seedlings from a European friend and began to plant on his farm. While he was initially subject to criminal proceedings, the growing independence movement (“Mau-Mau rebellion”) aided the chief in having his case successfully dropped. Once the rebellion ended, the Director of Agriculture removed restrictions previously allowing for only large plantations to grow coffee. The smallholder revolution had begun.

These days, Kenyan coffee is made up of two main sectors: plantations, made up of ±3,300 farms comprising an area of ±40,000 hectares (ha) of coffee. Within the plantation sector, there are 3000 small estates (<50 ha) and 300 large estates (>50 ha). This accounts for about 25% of Kenya’s coffee planted land. The other 75% is comprised of the coop sector, made up of 270 cooperatives with a membership totalling 700,000 smallholder farmers cultivating 120,000 ha of coffee.

Smallholder cooperatives began building factories/washing stations in the 1960s so that they could process their coffees the way large plantations did. Nowadays, these factories serve up to 2,000 members each. Smallholders, overall, control of 58% Kenya’s coffee production. Not only do they contribute the largest proportion of coffee, they are known for producing the highest quality coffee coming out of Kenya.

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Changing Times: The Rising Small Estate Farm

Given Kenya’s coffee history, it is unsurprising that the cooperative has been the dominant seller of Kenyan specialty coffee. Specialty coffee buyers are very used to working with cooperatives and marketing Kenyan coffees in this way. But not all cooperatives are working equally well and it has often proved frustrating for a buyer to align themselves with specific coops and/or factories because of things like corruption, mismanagement issues, and fluctuating quality.

It is for these reasons, traceability concerns, etc., that we have started exploring relationships with both single estates as well as small farmer groups beginning to form micro-coops. As is true at origins with well-developed farm-level marketing, these kinds of partnerships are enticing for even greater quality and relational potential than is possible with big group organizations.

While touring Kirinyaga during early-November this year, we met with the newly established “Slopes of 8” micro-cooperative. As its name implies, this cooperative is made up of eight estates that have banded together to market their coffees together with the aim of establishing long-term relationships with buyers. The project has garnered so much interest from neigbouring farms that the leader of Slopes of 8, Joseph Karaba, is consulting others on how to begin their own micro-cooperatives.

In February, we will hopefully cup lots from a couple of these newly established coops and start some new partnerships.

We have already had a lot of success with one small estate farmer relationship that was established two seasons ago: John Njoroge owner of Kiambu and Kiriani estates, who has produced great coffees for us two seasons in a row. The current harvest will represent our third season working with him and we were thrilled to see that he had invested in and constructed beautiful, sturdy, shaded drying beds, even though the drought brought on by El Niño/La Niña earlier this year has left him with a disappointing volume of coffee this season.

Unfortunately for farmers all over Kenya, the current harvest will lead to lower than average volumes this year, which often leads to higher overall cup quality. Look forward to sharing our selections with you in a few months.

-Melanie

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Bibliography

  1. Block, R. Pearson & C. Tomlinson. Kahawa: Kenya’s Black Gold. C. Dorman LTD. Nairobi, 2005.

Factory Profile: Gathiruini

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Name: Gathiruini
Affiliated CFS: Komothai Cooperative Society
Province: Central
District: Kiambu
Location: Gathiruini
Nearest Town/Centre: Karatina
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1100
Altitude (masl): 1520-2200
Process: Washed and Naturals
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: November - January
Varieties: SL 28 & SL 34
Soil: Rich red volcanic soil


About

Gathiruini washing station is part of the largest Cooperative Society of Kiambu county. Together with Riakahara, Barikongo, Kagwanja, Kirura, Korokoro, Githongo, Thiururi, Kaibu, New Thuita, Kanake, Gatuyu and Kamuchege factories, the Komothai Cooperative Society gathers over 9,900 active members. Together they produce over 170,000 kgs of clean coffee annually.

Farmers take ripe cherries to be processed in centralized wet mills, where they are pulped, fermented, washed and sun dried. Dry parchment is then moved to a dry mill for further processing and grading before reaching the weekly auctions in Nairobi.


Background

Coffee production in Kenya dates back to the late 1880’s, when is thought to have been brought by the French Missionaries to the Taita Hills area. Introduced into the Kiambu district in 1896, it found a great combination of altitude, soils and temperature that results in the high quality for which Kenyan coffee is known for around the world.

Still today, the biggest coffee growing area spreads from Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi, up to the slopes of Mount Kenya. The Counties in this region also known as Central Kenya – Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Nyeri – have an annual production of around 39,000 metric tons of green coffee, which counts for almost 70% of the national production. Other coffee growing areas are: Machakos (Eastern Kenya), Bungoma (Western Kenya) and Kisii (Nyanza region) but volumes are significantly smaller.

Although patterns may differ from area to area, Kenya is generally known to have two main rainy seasons which dictate two crops. Long rains happen from March to May, while a shorter rainy season happens around October. The dry spells that anticipate those trigger two flowering periods: February/March for the country’s main crop, and September for the early/’fly’ crop. That means coffee will be harvested from September to December for the main crop, and from May up to July for the early crop. While central areas are able to produce and deliver coffee in both seasons, Machakos, for example, is known for producing almost only during early crop.

Soils are volcanic and very rich in organic matter, and the altitude in coffee growing areas ranges from a minimum of 1280m in Embu, Eastern part of Mount Kenya region, to a high of 2300m in Nyeri, on the Western slopes.

 

Organization & Processing

Approximately 55 % of all coffee production comes from smallholder farms, but that can vary from area to area (Kiambu 14%, Kirinyaga 72%, Machakos 80%). Smallholder farmers are organized in Cooperative Societies, these own the wet mills where farmers deliver ripe cherries. At wet mills (also known as factories) cherries get pulped and ferment for approx. 24 hours. After fermentation, coffee is then soaked in tanks full of water and washed in channels. Still at the washing state, coffee is graded in P1 (heaviest parchment), P2 and lights (floaters); and any remaining cherries are removed and processed separately. Coffee is sun dried on raised tables and drying can take up to 3 weeks. At night and during the hottest periods, parchment is covered so that drying is homogenous. Dry parchment is then delivered to a centralized dry mill to be processed, screened and marketed at the weekly auctions in Nairobi.

Factory Profile: Kiangai

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Name: Kiangai
Affiliated CFS: Kibirigwi Cooperative Society
Province: Central
District: Kiangai
Location: Kirinyaga, Nyeri
Nearest Town/Centre: Karatina
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1500
Altitude (masl): 1310-1900Process: Washed
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: November - January
Varieties: SL 28 & SL 34
Soil: Rich red volcanic soil


About

Kiangai village is located 7 km from Karatina bordering Nyeri and Kirinyaga counties. Farmers use the Kiangai washing station which is part of Kibirigwi Cooperative Society together with another 8 factories (Ragati, Nguguini, Mukangu, Kibingoti, Thunguri, Kianjege, Chewa and Kibirigwi). This is a large society with approximately 7,200 active members producing 750,000 kgs of clean coffee annually. Farmers take ripe cherries to be processed in centralized wet mills, where they are pulped, fermented, washed and sun dried. Dry parchment is then moved to a dry mill for further processing and grading before reaching the weekly auctions in Nairobi.
 

Background

Coffee production in Kenya dates back to the late 1880’s, when is thought to have been brought by the French Missionaries to the Taita Hills area. Introduced into the Kiambu district in 1896, it found a great combination of altitude, soils and temperature that results in the high quality for which Kenyan coffee is known for around the world.

Still today, the biggest coffee growing area spreads from Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi, up to the slopes of Mount Kenya. The Counties in this region also known as Central Kenya – Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Nyeri – have an annual production of around 39,000 metric tons of green coffee, which counts for almost 70% of the national production. Other coffee growing areas are: Machakos (Eastern Kenya), Bungoma (Western Kenya) and Kisii (Nyanza region) but volumes are significantly smaller.

Although patterns may differ from area to area, Kenya is generally known to have two main rainy seasons which dictate two crops. Long rains happen from March to May, while a shorter rainy season happens around October. The dry spells that anticipate those trigger two flowering periods: February/March for the country’s main crop, and September for the early/’fly’ crop. That means coffee will be harvested from September to December for the main crop, and from May up to July for the early crop. While central areas are able to produce and deliver coffee in both seasons, Machakos, for example, is known for producing almost only during early crop.

Soils are volcanic and very rich in organic matter, and the altitude in coffee growing areas ranges from a minimum of 1280m in Embu, Eastern part of Mount Kenya region, to a high of 2300m in Nyeri, on the Western slopes.

 

Organization & Processing

Nowadays, approximately 55 % of all coffee production comes from smallholder farms, but that can vary from area to area (Kiambu 14%, Kirinyaga 72%, Machakos 80%). Smallholder farmers are organized in Cooperative Societies, these own the wet mills where farmers deliver ripe cherries. At wet mills (also known as factories) cherries get pulped and ferment for approx. 24 hours. After fermentation, coffee is then soaked in tanks full of water and washed in channels. Still at the washing state, coffee is graded in P1 (heaviest parchment), P2 and lights (floaters); and any remaining cherries are removed and processed separately. Coffee is sun dried on raised tables and drying can take up to 3 weeks. At night and during the hottest periods, parchment is covered so that drying is homogenous. Dry parchment is then delivered to a centralized dry mill to be processed, screened and marketed at the weekly auctions in Nairobi.

Farm Profile: Ndocha Estate

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Name: Ndocha Estate
Province: Central
District: Ruiru
Location: Kiambu
Nearest Town/Centre: Kiambu
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1300
Altitude (masl): 1575
Process: Washed
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: November - January
Varieties: SL 328
Soil: Rich red volcanic soil

 

About

Previously known as the Muathe farm named after the family’s matriarch, Ndocha Estate is now owned by siblings and run by Peris Karungongo. The farm has seven permanent workers and casual workers during picking season, varying from from 10 to 12 workers off peak and up to 80 during high season. Ndocha Estate has 4 different ‘blocks’ totalizing 29 hectares with a many as 15,000 coffee trees of traditional varieties.


Background

Coffee production in Kenya dates back to the late 1880’s, when is thought to have been brought by the French Missionaries to the Taita Hills area. Introduced into the Kiambu district in 1896, it found a great combination of altitude, soils and temperature that results in the high quality for which Kenyan coffee is known for around the world.

Still today, the biggest coffee growing area spreads from Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi, up to the slopes of Mount Kenya. The Counties in this region also known as Central Kenya – Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Nyeri – have an annual production of around 39,000 metric tons of green coffee, which counts for almost 70% of the national production. Other coffee growing areas are: Machakos (Eastern Kenya), Bungoma (Western Kenya) and Kisii (Nyanza region) but volumes are significantly smaller.

Although patterns may differ from area to area, Kenya is generally known to have two main rainy seasons which dictate two crops. Long rains happen from March to May, while a shorter rainy season happens around October. The dry spells that anticipate those trigger two flowering periods: February/March for the country’s main crop, and September for the early/’fly’ crop. That means coffee will be harvested from September to December for the main crop, and from May up to July for the early crop. While central areas are able to produce and deliver coffee in both seasons, Machakos, for example, is known for producing almost only during early crop.

Soils are volcanic and very rich in organic matter, and the altitude in coffee growing areas ranges from a minimum of 1280m in Embu, Eastern part of Mount Kenya region, to a high of 2300m in Nyeri, on the Western slopes.

 

Organization & Processing

Nowadays, approximately 55 % of all coffee production comes from smallholder farms, but that can vary from area to area (Kiambu 14%, Kirinyaga 72%, Machakos 80%). Smallholder farmers are organized in Cooperative Societies, these own the wet mills where farmers deliver ripe cherries. At wet mills (also known as factories) cherries get pulped and ferment for approx. 24 hours. After fermentation, coffee is then soaked in tanks full of water and washed in channels. Still at the washing state, coffee is graded in P1 (heaviest parchment), P2 and lights (floaters); and any remaining cherries are removed and processed separately. Coffee is sun dried on raised tables and drying can take up to 3 weeks. At night and during the hottest periods, parchment is covered so that drying is homogenous. Dry parchment is then delivered to a centralized dry mill to be processed, screened and marketed at the weekly auctions in Nairobi.

 

Factory Profile: Muthwewathi

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Name: Muthwewathi
Affiliated to: New Gikaru (FCS)
Province: Central
District: Nyeri
Nearest Town/Centre: Mukurweini
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1150
Altitude (masl): 1500-2000
Producers: 3800
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: October-December
Varieties: SL 28 & 34
Soil: Rich red volcanic loam soils


About

Muthwewathi is located in Nyeri County. The factory is in New Gikura in southern Nyeri close to Mukurweini. They have 3800 members in total. Altitudes range from around 1500 to just above 2000masl.


Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

 

Factory Profile: Kiamabara

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Name: Kiamabara Factory
Affiliated to: Mugaga Farmers Co-operative Society (FCS)
Province: Central
District: Nyeri
Location: Karatina
Nearest Town/Centre: Karatina Town
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1150
Altitude (masl): 1600
Producers: 910
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: October-December
Varieties: SL 28 & 34
Soil: Rich red volcanic loam soils


About

Kiamabara Coffee Factory is located in Nyeri County near Karatina Town, and together with Gatina it comprises the Mugaga Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS). The factory was built was in the early 1980's to process cherry from the neighboring farms. The factory is run by a factory manager who reports to the society's secretary manager. The factory has 3 representatives in the Society management committee. Kiamabara uses the Kingu river as its local water source. The factory is receiving assistance from our partner Coffee Management Services (CMS). The long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, input access, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and a sustainable farming handbook updated and distributed annually. Our wish is to establish a transparent, trust based relationship with the farmer, helping to support a sustained industry growth in Kenya, whilst bringing premium quality to our customers, and premium prices to the farmers.

Through the pre-financing they receive, farmers are given advances for school fees and farm inputs. The factory manager is re-trained every year by CMS, in addition to field days being held by the minister of agriculture and agrochemical companies that deliver inputs to the farmers. Demonstration plots are planted at the factory to reinforce the best practices taught throughout the year.

After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. Wastewater is discarded in soaking pits, and is also recirculated for conservation. The factory is using a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before it is cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and volumes under processing, and can take from 7 to 15 days in total.


Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

 

Factory Profile: Gachatha

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Name: Gachatha Factory
Affiliated to: Gachatha Farmers Co-operative Society (FCS)
Province: Central
District: Nyeri
Location: Thegenge
Nearest Town/Centre: Gatunda
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 950
Altitude (masl): 1300
Producers: 1165
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Main Harvest Season: October-December
Varieties: SL 28 & 34
Soil: Rich red volcanic loam soils


About

Situated in the Central Province of Kenya, Gachatha is located in the slopes of the Aberdare mountain range, about 150km north of Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory by smallholder farmers, before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. The nearest water source is the Kangunu stream, and the factory is dependent on electrical pumps to move water to reservoir tanks before using it for processing. Water is also recirculated for conservation. The factory is using a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean.

After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before it is cleaned, soaked and spread out on raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and total production volumes currently undergoing processing. Drying may take from 7 to 15 days in total.

The factory is receiving assistance from our partner Coffee Management Services (CMS). The long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, ready access to inputs, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and providing the most current printed materials on sustainable farming. By paying the producers some of the highest returns for their coffee our objective can be achieved. We strongly believe in establishing a transparent, trust based relationship with smallholder farmers, helping to support sustained industry growth throughout the country, and continuing to elevate the standards of quality coffee produced in Kenya.


Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes.

For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

Factory Profile: Mugaya

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Name: Mugaya
Affiliated to: Mutira (FCS)
Province: Central
District: Kirinyaga
Location: Kagumo
Nearest Town/Centre: Kagumo
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1100mm
Altitude (masl): 1550m
Producers: 1600
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Harvest Season: Early: March- May; late: October – December
Varieties: SL 28 & SL 34, Batian, Ruiru 11
Soil: Rich red volcanic soil


About

Established in 1975 is Mugaya Coffee Factory and is a member of the Mutira Farmers Cooperative Society. Located in the Central province within the Kirinyaga district, it serves more than 1600 farmer members, owning an average of 180 trees each. The main varieties of coffee grown here is SL28, SL34 and Ruiru 11.

After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory by smallholder farmers, before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. The factory is using a disc pulper to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, traveling through channels to the soaking tank the coffee is carefully cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and total production volume undergoing processing. Drying can take from 7 to 15 days in total. Frequent turning and sorting will happen during the drying stage.

The factory is receiving assistance from our field partner Coffee Management Services (CMS). The long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, ready access to inputs, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and providing the most current printed materials on sustainable farming. By paying the producers some of the highest returns for their coffee our objective can be achieved. We strongly believe in establishing a transparent, trust based relationship with smallholder farmers, helping to support sustained industry growth throughout the country, and continuing to elevate the standards of quality coffee produced in Kenya.


Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

 

Factory Profile: Kagumoini

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Name: Kagumoini
Affiliated to: Kamacharia (FCS)
Province: Central
District: Muranga
Location: Mathioya
Nearest Town/Centre: Mathioya
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1100mm
Altitude (masl): 1750m
Producers: 6110
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Harvest Season: Early: March- May; late: October – December
Varieties: SL 28, Some Batian Ruiru 11
Soil: Rich red volcanic soil
 

About

The Kagumoini coffee factory is belonging to the Kamacharia Farmers Cooperative Society. It is special to us as the farmers are very active, maximising their production by following trainings in Good Agricultural practices, with application of manure and inputs when required. The society is made up of smallholders growing mainly SL28, with a small amount of Batian and Ruiru 11 varieties. This area has two harvests, one from March to May, and main harvest season being from October to December.

After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, traveling through channels to the soaking tank the coffee is carefully cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and total production volume undergoing processing. Continuous sorting and hand turning of the parchment will happen throughout the drying process.

The factory is receiving assistance from our field partner Coffee Management Services (CMS). The long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, ready access to inputs, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and providing the most current printed materials on sustainable farming. The Society has undergone certifications wiht Rainforest Alliance and Cafe Practices. We strongly believe in establishing a transparent, trust based relationship with smallholder farmers, helping to support sustained industry growth throughout the country, and continuing to elevate the standards of quality coffee produced in Kenya.


Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

Factory Profile: Thunguri

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Name: Thunguri Factory
Affiliated to: Kibirigwi (FCS)
Province: Central
District: Kirinyaga
Location: Karatina
Nearest Town/Centre: Karatina Town
Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1100mm
Altitude (masl): 1600m
Producers: 1115
Drying Method: Sun
Harvest Method: Handpicking
Harvest Season: Early: April – June; late: October – December
Varieties: SL 28 & 34
Soil: Rich Red volcanic and loan soils


About

Thunguri Coffee Factory is located in Kirinyaga County just at the border with Nyeri County, close to Karatina town. It was established in 1962 and rests on an 8 acres piece of land serving Kiamwe, Nguguini and Kiahiti Villages. Currently it is affiliated to Kibirigwi Farmers Co-operative Society Ltd. Its membership currently stands at 1115 which 1095 are active farmers while 20 are inactive farmers.

The area experiences a biannual production cycle with the early harvest being from April-June and the late second season being from October-December. The main varieties of coffee grown are SL28, 34, K7 and Ruiru 11, with SL28, 34, K7 accounting to 99% of all coffee produced while Ruiru 11 accounts to 1 % of all production.

The factory is receiving assistance from our partner Coffee Management Services (CMS). The long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, input access, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and a sustainable farming handbook updated and distributed annually. Our wish is to establish a transparent, trust based relationship with the smallholder farmer, helping to support a sustained industry growth in Kenya, whilst bringing premium quality to our customers, and premium prices to the farmers. Through the pre-financing they receive, farmers are given advances for school fees and farm inputs. The factory manager is re-trained every year by CMS, in addition to field days being held by the minister of agriculture and agrochemical companies that deliver inputs to the farmers. Demonstration plots are planted at the factory to reinforce the best practices taught throughout the year.

After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. Wastewater is discarded in soaking pits, and is also recirculated for conservation. The factory is using a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before it is cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and volumes under processing, and can take from 7 to 15 days in total.
 

Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

Factory Profile: Karinga

gen-kenya_1.jpg

gen Kenya_1 Name: Karinga Factory Affiliated to: Gitwe Farmers Co-operative Society (FCS) Province: Central District: Thika Location: Gatundu Nearest Town/Centre: Gatundu Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1500 Altitude (masl): 1840 Producers: 650 members Average Annual Harvest (kg): 208 520 Drying Method: Sun Harvest Method: Handpicking Harvest Season: Early: April – June; late: October – December Varieties: SL 28 & 34 Soil: Rich red volcanic loam soils

About

Founded in 1983, Karinga factory lies on five acres of land serving Kimaruri, Kariungu, Gachuha and Mugalwa villages.

Karinga Coffee factory is run by Samwel Muteti, who works with six permanent staff along with a changing number of casual staff. Number of casual staff varies from year-to-year depending on harvest yields. During peak season the factory employs about six casuals, while during the off-peak, at most one is retained. Permanent staff duties include weighing coffee, selection and grading of coffee, paying farmers and addressing farmers’ concerns.

Crop production has not been stable at this factory due to poor payment, internal political wrangles and other factors. Most of farmers are tea growers, but management is now encouraging farmers to go back to coffee production because the cherry prices are stabilizing and have been quite high since 2010.

Affiliate members of the factory carry out all agronomic activities associated with coffee production (i.e. sourcing coffee from the Coffee Research Station and planting according to its guidelines). Their
fieldwork also involves weeding, pruning, spraying, and application of fertilizer, mulching and technical advice. Technical advice is offered through farmer training programs and field visits offered by Ministry of Agriculture. Compliance to the agreed guidelines is checked and supervised by the field committee. Amongst other things, this committee checks that coffee is not inter-cropped with maize and beans, though they do allow intercropping with macadamia nuts.

After harvest, coffee cherries are delivered to the factory and undergo wet processing. Water is pumped from the River Rwabura to the reservoir tanks for pulping and recirculation. After pulping, the coffee is stored overnight, is then washed, soaked and finally spread on drying tables. The parchment is frequently turned, and then sorted and stored, awaiting delivery to millers.

To ensure that the processing is carried out efficiently the factory has invested in a pulper, a recirculation system and about 12 conditioning bins.

Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

pdf version

Factory Profile: Karatu

gen-kenya_4.jpg

gen Kenya_4 Name: Karatu Factory Affiliated to: Gitwe Farmers Co-operative Society (FCS) Province: Central District: Thika Location: Gatundu Nearest Town/Centre: Gatundu Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1500 Altitude (masl): 1883 Producers: 800 members Average Annual Harvest (kg): 200 366 Drying Method: Sun Harvest Method: Handpicking Harvest Season: Early: April – June; late: October – December Varieties: SL 28 & 34 Soil: Rich red volcanic loam soils

About

Founded in 1965, Karatu factory is run by David Kanya, who works with six other permanent staff. The number of casual staff varies from year-to-year, depending on harvest yields. During the peak season the factory employs about eight casual staff, while during the off-peak, one is retained. Permanent staff duties include weighing coffee, selection and grading of coffee, paying farmers and addressing farmers’ concerns.

Crop production started rising during the 2002 – 2003 harvest, which is was encouraging, though not completely offsetting the fact that most farmers are still more active with tea production than coffee. However, management is now encouraging farmers to go back to coffee production and because the price is becoming more stable and is quite high, farmers are thus more encouraged to return to/begin more coffee production.

After the harvest of cherries, the coffee is delivered to the factory and undergoes the wet processing method. Water is pumped from the River Rwabura to reservoir tanks for pulping and recirculation. After pulping, the coffee is stored overnight, washed, soaked and spread on the drying tables. The parchment is then frequently turned, then sorted and stored to before delivery to the millers.

To ensure that the processing is carried out efficiently, the factory has invested in a pulper, recirculation system and about 20 conditioning bins.

Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

pdf version

Factory Profile: Kangunu

gen-kenya_5.jpg

gen Kenya_5 Name: Kangunu Factory Affiliated to: Mutheka Farmers Co-operative Society (FCS) Province: Eastern District: Embu Location: Runyenjes Nearest Town/Centre: Runyenjes Average Annual Rainfall (mm): 1600 Altitude (masl): 1600 Drying Method: Sun Harvest Method: Handpicking Harvest Season: Main: March – June; secondary: October – December Varieties: SL 28 Soil: Rich red volcanic loam soils

About

Founded in 1966, Kangunu factory has an active field management and is located in the main coffee growing zone, near the slopes of Mt. Kenya. Villages that deliver cherries to Kangunu include: Gicera, Gichiche, Gaciari, Kamica, and Kathera. The factory includes three big soak pits, which are large enough for proper drainage of waste water; there is no river nearby that can be potentially polluted. Nappier grass is planted nearby and trees to help in the purification of waste water.

Cherries are selectively handpicked and delivered to the wetmill on the same day. These cherries are sorted at the wetmill prior to pulping, where ripes are separated from under- and overripes. All processing uses clean river water from the Rundu River that is recirculated prior to being disposed of in seepage pits (to prevent contamination). Once parchment is fermented, it is washed and then sundried.

Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

pdf version

Factory Profile: Kaiguri

gen-kenya_2.jpg

gen Kenya_2 Name: Kaiguri Factory Affiliated to: Mutheka Farmers Co-operative Society (FCS) Province: Central District: Nyeri Location: Karundu Nearest Town/Centre: Kaiguri Altitude (masl): 1700-1800 Producers: Male: 399; Female: 122; Total: 521 Average Annual Production (kg): 147 594 Drying Method: Sun Harvest Method: Handpicking Harvest Season: October – January Varieties: SL 28 Soil: Rich red volcanic loam soils

About

Kaiguri factory is situated near the town of Kaiguri, in the Nyeri district east of the Aberdare Mountain range. It started its operations in the year 1969 as one of 18 factories in the former Tetu Coffee Growers’ Co-operative Society, which held all 18 factories.  In 1999, the society split into 18 single factory societies. In 2004, the government encouraged the single societies to merge and form a large and economically viable society, resulting in the formation of two societies: Aguthi and Mutheka FCSes. Kaiguri factory services four different zones: Chukuruini, Mutoigu, Karurumo and Karaini.

Cherries are selectively handpicked and delivered to the wetmill on the same day. These cherries are sorted at the wetmill prior to pulping, where ripes are separated from under- and overripes. All processing uses clean river water from the Rundu River that is recirculated prior to being disposed of in seepage pits (to prevent contamination). Once parchment is fermented, it is washed and then sundried.

Background to Kenya

There’s no doubt: Kenya is an amazing coffee destination. Coffees from this origin are known for their powerful aromas, refreshing acidity, flavors of sweet berries, rich mouthfeel, and clean and lingering aftertastes. Years of experience have really taught us how to limit our search at this origin, but we are always open to surprises and are ready for new partners and flavors. Kenya has a well-established and well functioning auction system.

Dormans, based in Nairobi, is where we usually go in order to sample coffees we are interested in buying. Dormans has a reputation for retaining good cuppers. We like them, we trust them, and they rigorously search for the best coffees to offer us. In the peak of the buying/auction season they will screen thousands of coffees each week. Dormans has a license to buy at the auction and they are also partner to a marketing agent/mill—Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM)—where coffee is processed after it finishes drying at the factories.

The washing stations that produce our coffee pride themselves on having some of the best-paid cherry producer members in the country. The system at the Kenyan Coffee Auction is refreshingly transparent in its communicating where coffees come from, its systematic organization of coffee by screen quality (such as size and physical attributes), and in its practice of rewarding cup quality/sensorial attributes.

Most coffee producers in Kenya are “smallholders”. Each producer’s total volume might only be a few bags, thus hundreds of farmers, when living in the same area, are likely to be members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole community’s behalf. Each cooperative typically runs several “factories” (i.e. processing and washing stations) where producers deliver cherries from their farms. Sometimes a producer chooses to deliver to the closest factory but some prefer delivering to a different factory, due to differing management practices. The usual reason for choosing one factory over another is based on the prices a given factory manages to obtain for its cherries.

Good management at a good factory will not allow for unripe or unevenly matured cherries. This is because accepting such cherries damage the potential to receive optimum prices for everyone concerned. We pride ourselves in knowing the factories we buy from pride themselves on ensuring their community of members deliver only red and mature cherries. In Kenya’s market make-up, cherry price is directly linked to cup quality.

In Kenya, a cooperative is a democratically run organization with producers acting as both members and as representatives of the governing board. One key function of the board is to nominate a marketing agent: a body/organization/company that retains a license to sell the coop’s/client’s coffee at the highest possible price. This works in both parties’ interests. Normally a coffee lot is sold at auction, but it can also be sold outside auction if the coop and marketing agent believe they can get an even better price outside auction through selling directly to a customer. That is where we come into the picture.

In the last few years we have taken advantage of the possibility of buying coffees directly from, or at least in understanding and agreement with, the cooperatives. The cooperative is the seller of the coffee and always wants the highest price possible in recognition of: 1. The hard work of quality oriented farmers and factories, 2. Cup quality, and 3. In recognition of the current price of coffees of “similar quality” being sold at auction in Nairobi. Negotiating the price of the best coffees is important to a buyer eager to secure lots before it goes to auction where somebody else might buy it. The price offered has to be high enough for the cooperative to ensure it won’t be sold better at auction, which can, in turn, discourage quality-minded producers. As a matter of fact, all the best coffees are sold this way, thus the only way to get hold of these lots is to be present at origin while they are coming from the mill.

In Kenya, a “coffee lot” is made from a bigger batch of coffee that is delivered to the dry-mill from a cooperative on a given day. When a coffee batch arrives at the mill, it is processed (hulled), analyzed (technically and sensorially), screened (separated due to bean sizes) and given an outturn-number. While the parchment is taken off the beans in the hulling process, the beans are screened and separated due to shape and size.

AAs are flat with screen size 17+. ABs are flat with screen sizes 15 and16. PBs are pea-berries. There are always a certain percentage of lower grades too.

Screen size does not necessarily correlate with quality in terms of flavor attributes. For example, sometimes we find many of the AB-selections to be superior to the AAs from the same lot. In addition, it is not true that PBs are necessarily more intense in flavor or better in quality than flat beans.

Acidity junkies love cupping in Kenya. The questions are much more about “how” and “what kind of acidity” one wants in the coffee, rather than whether one can find it. We work hard to get these Kenya lots in quick and fresh so roasters can have all the acidity you wish to play with. Look for a well prepared, vacuum-packed and clean selection.

pdf version

CCS at London Coffee Week

Collaborative Coffee Source 2014 NEW HARVEST presentation

After extensive sourcing travels to origins throughout the winter we have been making recent presentations of our findings to discerning coffee roasting communities in Russia, France, Germany, USA/NYC, Norway and Sweden.

Now CCS is pleased and proud to be back in London to present a representation of new coffees from our relationships - new & old - in Kenya, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil to our English roasters & friends, during London Coffee Week on Thursday, April 3.

Venues and times TBD. Please email Melanie for details and to RSVP

These cupping events are open to: Green Coffee buyers, Roasters, Cuppers, Baristas, specialty coffee community & friends

The King is in Trouble

kenya-king-post.jpeg

Kenya King post 

This post provides the backdrop for the previous post and my recent visit to Kenya where I was cupping and choosing the Collaborative Coffee Source’s lots from the recent harvest. My visit was affected by the current situation in the County of Nyeri, a district that is known for producing the best coffee in Kenya. This is where CCS always has bought stellar coffees from and for that reason happily paid the highest prices every season.  By this we have been rewarding good quality with the obvious means: good money. 

Coffee is an important product in many producing countries’ economy. It represents a source for revenue in foreign currencies and local taxes, thus its production is often heavily regulated and so is the trade of it. Ultimately, it employs many people: farmers and workers, all potential voters. Coffee is Political!

In recent years each County (also called ‘District’) in Kenya has received more explicit governing power, which is probably good for many things, but as we know, politicians can be unwise and plainly populist in their policy-making.

The newly elected Government of Nyeri have made a claim that farmers are not being paid well enough for their product compared to what exporters are making from selling it, thus new and radical policies are seeking to mend that situation namely, the local government in the county of Nyeri is taking full control of the milling and trade of all cooperative coffees* in Nyeri as of this season. In practical terms this means that the farmers’ cooperatives, which own the washing stations, are obliged to dry mill, screen and pack their coffee at the state run Sagana KPCU Mill. Ultimately the Nyeri coffee will be marketed and sold through the same Sagana company.

Is this being done in the name of what is best for the farmers? From history, from experience, from gut-feel: there is little reason to believe that the money will pile up at the farmer’s doorstep after this move.

Regrettably there is no doubt that coffee is generally not well paid for, which has been a sad truth not only in recent months but for decades. Unfortunately, exploitation and corruption in all sectors of the trade can and sometimes does happen. Even in the Specialty Coffee sector when prices are sometimes high, one can argue that not enough of the money paid for the end product is trickling all the way to where it belongs: to the farmer.

To an untrained eye, it may all look the same: coffee is coffee and trade is trade. Yet it should be acknowledged that many people are involved in the making of coffee and making sure coffee moves from the farm gate and beyond. Finding the best qualities requires a system and a lot of additional work (unlike in the commodity world). Developing a market where roasters willing to pay for quality actually have access to quality coffee is part of a system and hard work that ultimately benefits farmers via higher prices, recognition and repeated sales. Within the Specialty Coffee Paradigm, the product is totally traceable when it’s working at its best and the flow of the money is fully transparent.

The newly implemented regulations for trading coffee in Nyeri is now making the trade less transparent when looking for specialty lots from the cooperatives. The coffee business is not always just a commodity business: it is a people business, and within the Specialty Coffee trade, this is even more evident.

CCS only buys coffee from trusted sources and from people we know.

The Collaborative Coffee Source & Kenya Crop 2014

The Collaborative’s approach in Kenya is to add value to the chain by selecting the best lots we can find for our roaster customers. This means frequent visits, continuous searches in known and unknown areas, and extensive cupping and screening.

For many years we have chosen to work with Dormans as our partner in Kenya.

Dormans have set themselves up for accessing the best cooperatives by: defining the best regions and appellations, screening the best qualities from each place, and by even involving themselves in developing quality at the farm and washing station level (through a sister company).

Another key factor in our working relationship with Dormans is their recognizable ability to further process the coffee, which makes for the quality we have now come to expect. This includes dry milling (hulling), screening, cleaning and vacuum packaging.

We have always been offered close follow-ups with the processing and movement of our chosen lots, as well as insight into the distribution of costs throughout. This has enabled us to offer Kenyan coffee with full transparency, from the negotiated “farm gate” pricing to all the costs that add up to the final price.

Under the current circumstances CCS is choosing not to buy Nyeri Cooperative coffees from Sagana. To do so would not be in tune with our principles for transparent coffee trading and it would also be untactful to our longstanding relationships. As explained, in the previous post, this means we’ve had to look elsewhere for our selection of stellar Kenyan coffee this year, more specifically in the neighboring counties of Nyeri, but again with great assistance from Dormans—our partner at source—we believe we have found some great coffees.

- Robert W

* Estate coffee, as opposed to cooperative made coffee, is made at privately owned coffee estates and can still be sold through regular channels. But estate coffees have, for various reasons, always been of lower quality compared to the ones made by the best-managed cooperatives.

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Kenya is King

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Feb14_1 Imagine: The Royal Couple of Coffee

If Ethiopia is the Queen of Coffee, then Kenya is the King.  What a couple! While she is slender and graceful, with floral elegance and contoured acidity, he is more heavy bodied yet dandy: intensely aromatic, with rich attributes, colorful juiciness and flair. Both have standout personalities that make them unique and irreplaceable in the Word of Coffee.

Coming back to this world:

The Collaborative has been back in Kenya this week, cupping hundreds of samples from the New Harvest from the well-known coffee regions at the foot Mt.Kenya, Embu in the East, and the central counties of Muranga, Kiambu and Kirinyaga.

Yes, the coffee from Nyeri County is clearly missing on this list.

The ‘market’ is up and prices at the Kenyan Auction are going high. The Collaborative Coffee Source is discouraged from taking samples from cooperatives producing coffees we have loved and consistently purchased from simply because we do not know and trust the people that are currently handling the coffee on behalf of the farmers.

It seems the King of Coffee has lost control of its precious yet rebellious county… For Specialty Coffee lovers Nyeri Coffee is the quintessential representative of Kenyan Coffee, but this year we’ve been forced to look elsewhere. Background on this situation will come in the next post.

For the time being we are steering away from Cooperative coffees from Nyeri until the situation is cleared and normal trading principles are put back into practice. Currently the trading of Nyeri coffee is at a standstill, which is a pity, as so far the strategy of “helping the farmers” has been counterproductive. We at the Collaborative Coffee Source are sorry for this situation and hope to be able to present Nyeri Coffee from our long-standing relationships with Relationship Cooperatives to our discerning customers in the future.

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Don’t despair!

The nature of searching for the greatest coffees in each origin is basically like looking for the infamous “needle-in-the-hay-stack”. When Nyeri coffee is on the table, there are likely to be more needles in that stack.

The good thing about this situation is that we are encouraged to look elsewhere on the map for the greatest coffees from Kenya this year, which has been a good learning experience and with some very interesting discoveries.

And the winners are…

I am pleased to say that we’ve been able to identify great coffees from Embu, Muranga, Kiambu and Kirinyaga. We look forward to presenting these lots to you shortly. After screening plenty of contenders we’ve come down to a dozen samples – representing lots from 5 to 40 bags – that each have individual personalities, at the same time as exhibiting the finest features we know from Kenyan coffee: Intense aromas, well-pronounced acidity and juicy sweetness from tropical fruits and dark berries, sometimes with a delicate mouth feel, sometimes with a richer body.

Contact us now for cupping event schedule or sample request. Looking for March shipment, coffee arriving at our Antwerp warehouse around Easter.

- Robert W

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Situation in Nyeri

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Dear CCSers, You may have already been apprised of the news coming out of Nyeri regarding the county’s recent move toward centralization of coffee production. This newsletter is simply a summary/informative piece meant to update those of you buying and/or have interest in Nyeri coffee. As the situation is still evolving, this is not meant to provide any sort of analysis or predictions about what will happen.

In short, the introduction of the new Constitution in Kenya is resulting in a substantial decentralization in power. Subsequently, county governments have quickly taken steps toward becoming more deeply involved within various areas of economic and social society. The Agricultural sector encompasses a large voter base within Kenya and in Nyeri, the recent decentralization of power has allowed the Governor to create a central mill for all Nyeri coffee in order to market it under the company’s name: Sagana. According to the Nderitu Gachagua (Governor), this move is meant to increase the price of Nyeri coffee to its “correct” value; he has expressed hopes that prices will at least double last season’s prices.

The county’s move toward centralization has been swift: an order was issued, within the last weeks that all coffee must be delivered to the Sagana mill. It is now illegal for farmers to deliver coffee to any other mill, even licensed ones. There is some powerful resistance to these changes and 13 of Nyeri’s Cooperative Societies have taken the local government to court the High Court, claiming that they have a constitutional right to choose where their coffee is milled and marketed. This case is not scheduled to be heard until mid-February, however.

Many of you know Nyeri as being a key area from where high quality coffee is sourced; it is where our partners at Central Kenya Coffee Mill (CKCM) are located. We have received news from CKCM that it has been the main target of local government authorities, one of the major consequences of this was that last Thursday, CKCM was ordered to halt its operations.

What this news means for this year’s production and purchasing is yet to be determined. Dormans and CKCM are obviously concerned about the loss of supply of Nyeri coffee, but are currently forced to allow the situation to develop as it does.

We hope that the situation moves toward a resolution that truly takes the interests of the farmers as its main priority. From our perspective, a movement toward less transparency does not seem the best course of action, considering the ever-increasing demand from roasters for increasingly better quality and traceable coffee. For more information, please visit the following links:

Standard Digital News The Star

Mwakilishi

NTV