We’re pleased to return to one of our favourite Kenyan origins from the first year of Brew Crew to share their latest harvest.
This is also the first of the fresh harvests from Kenya that we’re sharing, after the crops arrived at our roastery in Sydney in the first few days of June. Harvested and processed in Nyeri County, Kenya, at the very end of 2015, they then made their slow journey through Nairobi to port, and then on to Australia via Melbourne before arriving here in St Peters.
Kiamabara Coffee Factory
Kiamabara Coffee Factory is located in Nyeri County near Karatina Town, and together with Gatina it makes up the Mugaga Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS).
The factory was built was in the early 1980s to process coffee cherry from the neighboring farms, and draws from the nearby Kingu river for its water supply.
The factory receives assistance from the organisation Coffee Management Services, whose long-term goal is increasing coffee production through farmer training, input access, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and a sustainable farming handbook updated and distributed annually.
They share our desire to establish transparent, trust based relationships with farmers, helping to support a sustainable industry in Kenya and rewarding high quality coffee with premium prices for farmers.
Farmers have access to pre-financing for their crops are given advances for school fees and farm inputs. The factory manager’s training is updated every year by Coffee Management Services, together with field days held by the minister of agriculture and agrochemical companies that deliver inputs to the farmers.
Demonstration plots of coffee are planted at the factory to demonstrate and reinforce the best practices shared with farmers throughout the year.
After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. Wastewater is discarded in soaking pits, and is also recirculated for conservation.
The factory uses a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean.
After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars. It’s then cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and volumes under processing, and can take from 7–15 days in total.
From farmer to coop to factory
Kenya’s coffee crops come from smallholder coffee farms, large estates and small estates. There are over 700,000 smallholders who make up about 55% of the Kenya’s production.
Smallholders are organized in to cooperative societies, which act as umbrella organisations for the factories (also known as wetmills) where these producers deliver their coffee crops for processing.
There can be several factories in an area which farmers are free to choose to deliver their cherry. Due to the traditional auction system in Kenya, quality is rewarded with higher prices. Better factories attract more farmers by producing coffee that fetches the highest prices, in turn giving higher returns to the farmers.