Guama is produced by the Baragwi Farmers Co-op, which is named after the small village just south of Mt. Kenya where the cooperative is located.
The Guama wet mill, located in the village with the same name, opened in 1974. The mill serves over 3,500 small producers, with the average producer having a crop of only 86 trees each.
Kirinyaga is located on the slopes of Mount Kenya and together with the neighbouring region Nyeri, it’s known for coffees with some of the most intense and complex flavours in the world.
The region is made up of mainly smallholder farms, each with some 100 trees. The farmers are organized in Cooperative Societies that act as umbrella organisations for the factories (wetmills), where the smallholders deliver their coffee cherries for processing.
Kirinyaga has a mix of smallholders and block holders with small to medium farms. The ones that don’t have their own processing equipment delivers cherries to their local Cooperative. Many of the farmers are surrounded by several wet mills and as members are free to choose where they want to deliver their cherries.
Most coffees are grown under shade from trees, which also often provide a second crop for farmers to sell.
Due to the traditional auction system in Kenya, quality is rewarded with higher prices. The better factories will then attract more farmers by producing coffee getting the highest prices, as well as giving high payback rate to the farmers. This can in some cases be about 90% of the sales price after cost of marketing and preparation is deducted.
Baragwi Farmers Cooperative became Rainforest Alliance certified in 2011, which is an unusual step for a small cooperative. Certifications such as Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, and organic, can be very expensive and time-consuming to obtain, and the cost of applying is borne by the producers, so though many of the farms we work with meet (or exceed) the requirements, many aren’t certified due to the cost.