FACTORY – Kiunyu
COOPERATIVE – Karithathi FCS
ALTITUDE – 1644 masl
LOCATION – Ngariama, Gichugu Division, Kirinyaga district, Central Province
PREPARATION - Washed and sun-dried on African beds
VARIETY – SL34 and a little Ruiru 11
OWNERS – Cooperative members
Situated on the equator on Africa's east coast, Kenya has been described as "the cradle of humanity". In the Great Rift Valley palaeontologists have discovered some of the earliest evidence of man's ancestors. Kenya’s topography is incredibly diverse. The country is a land of mountains, valleys, open plains, deserts, forests, lakes, savannahs and a golden sanded coastline. With its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife, Kenya is one of Africa's major safari destinations.
Kenyan coffee at a glance
Coﬀee was introduced to Kenya by the British with seeds from neighbouring Ethiopia and also from Reunion (Bourbon) island. The development of hybrids during the 1930s brought about the highly successful varietals, SL28 and SL34 – coﬀees that are now world famous and highly admired for their wonderful complexity in the cup with unrivalled lemony acidity. The country’s best coﬀees are grown in the Central Highlands on the southern slopes of Mt. Kenya to the north and in the foothills of the Aberdare Mountains to the west. Here the coﬀee is grown on farms with altitudes of up to 1,800 metres above sea level - and this, along with the fertile volcanic soils of the region, is the key to the almost unbelievable ﬂavours that can be found within the cup. The best coﬀees in Kenya are produced by the cooperatives of which there are around 300 comprised of between half a million to 600,000 smallholder members. About 60% of Kenya’s coﬀee is produced on cooperatives with estates and plantations making up the balance. Typically a smallholding or ‘shamba’ is comprised of shade-grown coﬀee, a house, the family cow and a good variety of vegetables and fruit for the use of the family.
SL34 Varietal: SL34 was created in the 1930s as a mutation between Bourbon and Typica. It diﬀers to SL28 as it has bronze tipped leaves. This could perhaps mean it has greater similarity to the Typica varietal. SL34 is known to be fairly resis- tant to heavy rainfall at high altitudes and produces top quality coﬀee with complex citrus acidity and a heavy mouthfeel.
Screen Size - AB: This is a classification of coffee grown in Kenya, whereby grades are assigned based on the screen size of the bean. Beans with a screen size of 7,2mm screen are assigned the grade AA as they are generally the largest bean. AB screen size is 6.8mm to 6.2mm. Whilst bean size is considered by many to be a sign of quality, it is important to bear in mind that it is only one of many factors in determining quality as it is really only used to verify that the coffee is uniform in size - ensuring a uniform roast.
The Kiunyu factory is located in the Gichugu division of the Kirinyaga district close to the town of Kerugoya. It serves the Kagumoini, Kianduma, Kiambuku, Kiambatha, Gature and Kiamuki villages and is aﬀiliated to the Karithathi Farmers Co-op Society along with the Kabingara factory.
There are now 1100 active members of the Kiunyu factory which is managed by Matthew Nthiga along with 8 permanent staﬀ members. Smallholder members each have on average around 1 acre of land for coﬀee growing alongside macadamia, beans, banana and maize. Smallholder members of this factory have access to training and technical advice in an eﬀort to increase the yield. The coﬀee is handpicked by the smallholder members and delivered to the Kamunyaka factory where it is pulped.
This initially separates the dense beans from the immature ‘mbuni’s (ﬂoaters) using water ﬂoatation which means the denser beans will sink and be sent through channels to the fermentation tank. This ﬁrst stage of fermentation will last for around 24 hours, after which the beans are washed and sent to the secondary fermentation tank for another 12-24 hours. Once the fermentation process is completed, the beans enter the washing channels where ﬂoaters are separated further and the dense beans are cleaned of mucilage. The washed beans will then enter soaking tanks where they can sit under clean water for as long as another 24 hours. This soaking process allows amino acids and proteins in the cellular structure of each bean to develop which results in higher levels of acidity and complex fruit ﬂavours in the cup - it is thought that this process of soaking contributes to the ﬂavour proﬁles that Kenyan coﬀees are so famed for. The beans are then transferred to the initial drying tables where they are laid in a thin layer to allow around 50% of the moisture to be quickly removed. This ﬁrst stage of drying can last around 6 hours before the beans are gathered and laid in thicker layers for the remaining 5-10 days of the drying period. The dry parchment coﬀee is then delivered to a private mill and put into ‘bodegas’ to rest – these are raised cells made of chicken wire which allows the coﬀee to breathe fully.
Coﬀee is traditionally sold through the country’s auction system, though recent amendments to the coﬀee law of Kenya have brought about the introduction of direct trading whereby farmers can by-pass the auction and sell directly to speciality roasters around the world. It is this system we have chosen for our oﬀering since we believe it brings about better returns for the smallholder.
Notes of honeysuckle, white chocolate and nectarine with a watermelon and muscat finish.
Recomended brew methods: slow brew, filter, no milk.