ALTITUDE: 1,600m above sea level
VARIETAL: SL-28, Ruiru 11
FARMERS: 1,100 farmer members
In the cup: Juicy and floral with blackcurrant acidity, caramel sweetness and notes of soft apricot, white grape, peach and black tea.
Kanja Coffee Factory (wet mill) lies at an altitude of 1,600 meters above sea level on the slopes of Mt. Kenya in the agriculturally rich Central Province. This progressive coffee factory started to operate in 1979, and today has 1,100 producing members who live in the surrounding villages of Kanja, Mbogori and Irangi. These producers are very small, owning on average 130 – 200 coffee trees, that they grow alongside other crops such as macadamia, potatoes, maize, beans and tea.
After being carefully hand picked, the ripe cherry is brought to the factory by small-holder farmers, where it is weighed and then processed using the washed processing method. The coffee is pulped using a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that protects the green coffee bean. Waste water used in the processing is discarded in soaking pits, and is also recirculated for conservation. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before it is cleaned and soaked for a further 24 hours. This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity and clarity in the cup. After soaking, the coffee is 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 to 15 days in total.
Coffee in Kenya is graded according to the size of the bean and the quality. The definition clearly defines the size, and to some extent, they also assume the quality is linked to the size of the bean. While this is often true – AA lots (screen size 18+) are often superior coffees – in this case we found the AB lot to be exceptional with complex fruit flavours and intense sweetness.
Kanja Coffee Factory receives assistance from the Coffee Management Services (CMS) group ,who are on the ground directly helping producers improve their productivity and quality through training and education programs. Their objective is to establish a transparent and trust-based relationship with their small-holder farmers and ensure sustained industry growth by helping producers improve their quality, which in turn improves the premiums paid and ultimately has a positive impact on their quality of life.
(Information courtesy of Latorre and Dutch)