This year has been quite a difficult one in Kenya especially in the Nyeri region where the Kieni mill is located. There have been dramatic changes in the trade system and a lot of uncertainty in what was going on.
This is the fifth year that we are working directly with Kieni. We’ve developed a very special relationship with the people at the mill and seen the quality improve every year. We love the coffee they produce and we’re extremely happy to be able to get it again this year.
But it’s been difficult to get it. At first we heard that all coffee from the entire Nyeri region where to be bulked together and hence it wouldn’t be possible to get coffee from Kieni directly.
When Klaus went to Kenya in January he went to visit Kieni factory. Charles Mwai, who is the chairman of the mill met him there. They had some really good talks and Charles said to Klaus that it would be possible to buy their coffee directly and that the lots where all delivered individually to the Sagana mill. Actually Charles asked Klaus to please buy their coffee from there.
So Klaus went to the Sagana mill and saw the Kieni lots lying there, separated as usual, along with lots from most of the other good mills of Nyeri. The mill in general looked good, but since we had never done business there before we where very careful.
We heard things about this new trade system that was quite worrisome. The new trade system with the Sagana mill and Kenyan Co-operative Coffee Exporters (KCCE) was implemented by the democratically elected governor of Nyeri Nderitu Gachagua. To have a third party view on the system we asked the Danish embassy in Nairobi to look into this new system. They met with the governor and representatives of the new system. After that they send us their notes confirming that the new system did not intend to nationalize the coffee sector and that coffee will be kept separate from the individual mills and sold transparently, stating that we could work with the new system.
We got samples of different lots from Kieni and they tasted really wonderful. So we started negotiating and making sure that we could buy the coffee with full traceability of the money-flow.
We got a three party contract with KCCE and Kieni Factory (and Mugaga Society which Kieni are members of) and us. We settled on a price of 529 USD FOB Mombasa per 50 kgs or 4,8 USD/lb FOB Mombasa. Which includes packing the coffee on grain pro bags. Of this and after different standard deductions for coffee farmers in Kenya (such as contribution to the Kenyan Coffeee Research Foundation and Coffee Board of Kenya), Kieni has gotten 4,27 USD/lb.
By now we have also gotten the confirmation from KCCE that Kieni has been paid and the chairman of Kieni, Charles Mwai has confirmed that to us on phone today.
So all in all, we do think this has been a very challenging year in Kenya and hope very much that things will develop for the best for the farmers and we are extremely happy to be able for the fifth year in a row to present the wonderful coffee from Kieni!