In addition to the SL28 and SL34 that are almost ubiquitous around Kenya, this lot contains around 5% of the Ruiru 11 variety. Thisvariety is slowly becoming more widespread in the region due to its resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust and has been backcrossed with SL28 and SL34 to ensure high cup quality.
Kiama was established in 2005 and is led by the Chairman Charles Ndamburi Ngure. Day-to-day operations and quality control at Kiangundo are overseen by Factory Manager Iddah Rose Wangui.
Kiama receive assistance from Sucastainability, who are on the ground directly helping producers improve their productivity and quality through training and education programs. Their objective is to ensure sustained industry growth by establishing a transparent and trust-based relationships with small-holder producers. By helping them improve their quality, Sucastainability in turn improves the premiums the producers can be paid, which will ultimately have a positive impact on their quality of life.
Sucastainability currently works with over 500 small holder farmers and 70 cooperatives across all coffee producing regions of Kenya. The agency is managed by Wycliffe Odhiambo Murwayi (pictured above) who has over twenty years of experience working in the Kenyan coffee industry. His team of agronomists is headed up by Lucy Wanjiku Njoroge (also pictured) and they have a representative in each of the six coffee growing regions in Kenya. The team takes into consideration the individual needs of the producers they are working with and provides tailored advice and resources to help improve yields and quality. They also arrange financial assistance, either through micro-financing ahead of harvest, or by buying inputs in bulk and selling them at a discount to the producers. This ensures the farmer has access to essential fertilisers and pesticides at the correct time for application.
Sucastainability is responsible for milling the coffee, and provides important sensory analysis of the coffees. They are also responsible for marketing and on-selling the coffee either directly to traders or via the Auction system, who then sell the coffee to the final buyer. To learn more about the chain of custody in Kenya, click here.
HOW THIS WAS PROCESSED
All the coffee cherry is hand-picked by the small-holders and delivered on the same day to the washing station, where it undergoes meticulous sorting. This is also done by hand and is overseen by a ‘cherry clerk’ who ensures any unripe and damaged cherries are removed. The ripe cherry is then digitally weighed and recorded, and the farmer receives a receipt of delivery.
The coffee is then placed in a receiving tank and pulped using a disc pulping machine to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that protects the green coffee bean. After being pulped, the coffee is sorted by weight using water, with the highest quality and densest beans being separated out from the lighter, lower quality beans.
The coffee is then dry fermented for 16–24 hours, to break down the sugars and remove the mucilage (sticky fruit covering) from the outside of the beans. Whilst the coffee is fermenting it is checked intermittently and when it is ready it is rinsed and removed from the tanks and placed in a washing channel.
The parchment covered coffee is then washed with fresh water and sent through water channels for grading by weight. The heavier coffee, which sinks, is considered the higher quality, sweeter coffee, and any lighter density or lower grade coffee beans are removed. The beans are then sent to soaking tanks where they sit under water for a further 24 hours. This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity.
After soaking, the coffee is dried on raised drying tables (also known as African beds) and turned constantly to ensure it is dried evenly, and so that any defects can be identifiedand those beans removed. Time on the drying tables depends on the weather, ambient temperature and processing volume: taking anywhere from one to three weeks to get to the target moisture of 11–12%.
The coffee is then rested in parchment, and when ready for export, dry milled at Kahara Bowa mill in Thika, around a one hour drive from Nairobi.
WHY WE LOVE IT
Coffee in Kenya is graded according to the size of the bean and the quality. The definition clearly defines the size, and to some extent, they also assume the quality is linked to the size of the bean. While this is often true—AA lots (screen size 18+) are often superior coffees—in this case we found the AB lot to be exceptional, with complex fruit notes, sparkling acidity and intense and lingering sweetness. We purchased 60 cartons of this meticulously processed coffee from Kiangundo. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!