A new coffee is being released today from Kenya from another district than we’ve usually bought. We’ve typically been finding the most interesting coffees in the Nyeri region in central Kenya, but due to the political circumstances there we went looking for another coffee besides Kieni in a district to the east. We usually like to carry two coffees from Kenya, as we feel there’s simply so much good coffee there.
A couple of years ago I visited a society of four factories (wet mills) in the district Embu. The society is called Murue and the four factories are: Kianyanga, Kavutiri, Ngurueri and Gituara. I cupped their coffees at that time and quite liked them. It was a different profile than what we were looking for though, and we ended up buying from another society. But this year I cupped their coffee again in a blind cupping and the Gituara factory was really great. Apparently they had ideal rain fall this year that made their harvest great both in terms of quality and yield. I learned this later when I went to visit them again.
The Gituara factory is situated in the most picturesque landscape overviewing the valley where Mount Kenya National Park begins. It’s about 16 kilometers from the mountain itself. About 400 persons or families are members of the factory (as they refer to the wet mills in Kenya) and they each plant, grow, nuture, prune, pick etc. their own trees. After picking, the members delivers the fresh coffee berries to the mill, where they are depulped (the fruit skin and pulp is removed mechanically), then fermented in large tanks and washed with clean water from the nearby river Gatenguria. The waste water is cleaned before being led back into nature, which is common at most mills I’ve seen in Kenya (I do believe it’s required by law as well). After washing, the coffee is dried on typical african raised beds, that allow good air circulation between the beans. Beans are dried to between 11 and 13 % and then brought to the Central Kenya Coffee Mill in Nyeri for grading and sorting.
At the factory I met with the chairman and several of the board members from the Murue society. The entire society have around 4000 members who elect factory chairmen, board members and society chairman. They were just as kind as last time and invited me for lunch. It’s clear that they appreciate getting visits from buyers but also that they are very eager to sell their coffee. Like most farmers we meet, they stressed that the fluctuating prices makes life very difficult for them. Last year prices weren’t good, but also not as terrible as they’ve been. They were able to pay 63 Kenyan Shillings pr kg cherry to their members. The year before, where the total crop in Kenya was very low, the price had been 121. What they dream of is steadily getting above KSH 100 to the farmers, they explained, and hopefully even more over time. But even 100 is hard to get to, the way the market works. Selling directly to roasters is always a better deal for them, and they hope to get in touch with more roasters directly and build relationships.
The Murue society also showed me some excellent news: They are building a new Dry Mill to process coffee from their wet mills and the surrounding societies. It is expected to open next year and will save the long drive to Nyeri for all the coffee from Embu. It will also allow farmers and mill managers to cup their coffees much more frequently and get direct feedback. Furthermore it’ll take some of the load off the CKCM dry mill and hopefully mean coffee gets out even fresher.
The Gituara is on the shelves from today at DKK 99,- and also available via our webshop.