Gichathaini is one of three factories (or washing stations) that together form the Gikanda Farmers’ cooperative society.
The factory itself is owned by the coffee farmers who deliver cherries to the station. There are currently 897 members, with 770 of them active and selling coffees through the factory.
One elected factory representative sit on the Gikanda FCS management committee and are involved in making major decisions for the factory and for the Gikanda society as a whole.
The washing station itself is located on the Eastern side of Mt. Kenya national park about 6 km from the town of Karatina. The conditions for coffee growing are near perfect: there is abundant rainfall throughout the year, with concentrated wet periods between March-June and October- December. The average daily temperatures range from 15 C to 26 C with considerable cooling taking place at night.
The water used at the station for fermenting and washing the coffee is drawn from the nearby Ragati river using gravity-fed channels and is re-circulated during processing for conservation purposes.
After use it is moved into soak pits away from water sources so that it does not pollute the area.
Processing at Gichathaini
Timely and selective hand picking is carried out in Gichathaini wet mill. Cherry is delivered to wet mill the same day it is picked. Cherry sorting is carried out at the wet mill prior to the pulping.
Red ripe cheries are separated from underipes, overipes and foreign matter. Processing utilizes clean river water (wet processing) that is recirculated before disposal into seepage pits. Sun drying is done before delivery of the coffee to the dry mill for secondary processing.
AB: Coffee grading in Kenya
In Kenyan coffee you’ll often see initials, which are used indicate the size of the beans. AA is the larger of the two, based on a sorting screen sized 7.22mm; with AB made up of the combined beans of A grade (6.8mm) and B grade (6.2mm).
Gikanda Farmers Cooperative Society and the Gichathaini wet mill are certified Fairtrade, UTZ, and Rainforest Alliance certified.