Nyeri, Kenya, 4th of February 2010 -
….First of all sorry for the lack of more pictures. We have taken tons but the internet is way too slow to upload right now. We promise we will post them as soon as possible….
We have now visited all the wetmills of the Societies of Tekangu, Gikanda and Mugaga. Yesterday we cupped most of their samples sent in to the drymill. So today it was very exciting to visit the places that produced the coffees tested yesterday.
All these wetmills have a very high quality and offers that clear aroma of Nyeri that we are looking for. Some are exceptionally distinct with something very rarely seen. We will wait a bit to reveal which ones exactly we are going to buy, but they are all of such level that me and Casper just sat and stared at each other when trying them again on aeropress last night. The crop is significantly smaller this year in most of Kenya because of draught. This will lead to higher prices for us to pay. We will gladly pay that higher price since the quality of the best beans is still just as high as last year.
Ernest (at picture to the right from last blogpost) at the Central Kenyan Coffee mill was with us when we cupped the samples yesterday and gave us some really good input on the samples. He proved what a Pro-cupper he is when he suggested a coffee-break (!) between two of his endless cupping sessions. This man tries thousands of coffees for a living and still seems to appreciate to lean back with his cup of drip just as much even if just came from the cupping table. Impressing.
There were a lot of questions arising when visiting the wetmills- we have learned so much. One could imagine that you would get blasé visiting so many wetmills in such a short timespan. The process is very similar at all wetmills and it is more the attention to details that make the difference, which it is hard to see sometimes. But you actually get more interested the more you learn.
We had a very animated discussion with one of the farmers today. He went straight to the core and said that the many of the accessories needed for his farming are very expensive and always produced in the countries we come from. So we basically got an appeal to lower the prices on for example pesticides. Unfortunately we had to tell him that we don’t have much saying when it comes to set these prices, but it’s definitely something worth to think of.
We know chemicals used in coffee production don’t sound good. But in Kenya there is no way around it. We have written about it before but it’s worth mentioning again. Here they have at least 2 diseases affecting coffee trees that you can’t ignore of you want to have any trees left for the next season.
And with the farmers words ringing in the head, one can easily understand that he wont spray his trees with anything but the bare minimum even if the prices on pesticides would go down to the half.
As you might have understood, the work with this years harvest is over for the farmers and wetmills. Now is the time to do all the things that where were set-aside during the hectic period. Repairing and overseeing equipment like drybeds and de-pulpers. For the farmers it is time to think about pruning.
Tomorrow early morning we head back for Nairobi to see settle some last things about the handling of the green beans. And then we fly home to the snowstorms.
It has been an incredible visit here in Nyeri and we will for sure come back. The dedication of these people is amazing and you can really feel that they care for what they produce. Not talking of how dependent they are on every crop to survive. And they are very aware of the fact that anything that can improve the quality and quantity of the next harvest is essential for them to get better prices.
One thing that surprised us was how often it was the farmers that brought up Direct Trade as their vision of the future. Almost before we even had introduced ourselves they started talking about all the benefits of this trade model versus the others.
We could always see the benefits for us and had seen how it could be of mutual interest at other places where we buy our coffee. But that the farmers here themselves at all the wetmills we visited were so focused and already had such a clear strategy about Direct Trade- this was a revelation to us.
So this makes it really easy for us to leave this time- we know we will be back.