Muthingini Coffee Factory is located in Kirinyaga District, Njukiini location of Gichugu Division near Kianyaga town. It was established almost 50 years ago and sits on seven acres of land, processing coffee from the farmers of four nearby villages. The Factory is run by Rwama Farmers Co-operative Society, made up of 1,560 local farming families, including 1,000 actively farming.
Muthingini Coffee factory is run by Cyrus Nyamu the factory manager, assisted by seven permanent staff and casual workers.
The area experiences a twice-annual production cycle with an early harvest from April–June, followed by a late second season from October–December.
Continuing to improve quality
The factory is receiving assistance from our partner Coffee Management Services (CMS) whose long-term goal is to increase quality coffee production in Kenya through farmer training, input access, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and a sustainable farming handbook updated and distributed annually. They share our goal of transparent, trust based relationships with farmers, helping to support a sustained industry growth in Kenya, bringing premium quality to you brewing coffee at home, and premium prices to the farmers.
Farmers have access to pre-financing for their crops, which is often used to pay school fees and the costs of growing the crop. The factory manager is re-trained every year by CMS, and field days are held for the farmers. Demonstration plots are planted at the factory to reinforce the best practices taught throughout the year.
What is SL28?
This coffee is the SL28 varietal, which is quite common to see on farms in Kenya. It’s been present in our past Brew Crew coffees from Kenya, though it’s not often that it’s been in a harvest without other varietals also being included too.
The SL stands for Scott Labs, who were commissioned in the 1930s by the Kenyan government to survey and catalog all the different varietals that existed in Kenya to find the ones best suited to commercial farming. In particular, the government was looking for a coffee varietal that showed strong resistance to drought and produced a high yield of coffee cherries.
The two strains that were selected were SL-34 and the varietal in this release: SL-28.
The SL-28 didn’t turn out to have particularly high yield, but what it does bring is big, complex delicious flavours.
Serious Eats has more on the story of this varietal.
Processing at Rwama
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 is using 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, before it is cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables, similar to the ones in the photo at the top of this page.
The overhanging pieces you can see hanging from the sides of the tables are used to cover the coffee from extreme sun or occasional rain or damp during drying.
Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and volumes under processing, and can take from 7–15 days in total.