Region: Embu district, Eastern Province
Altitude: 1800 m above sea level
Variety: SL28, K 27, Riruru-11
Farmers: Smallholder farmers
In the cup: Apricots, jasmine, orange sherbert, starburst and pink lemonade. Sweet with citric and apple acidity
Producer Notes: Situated on the slopes of Mount Kenya in the well respected coffee growing area of central Kenya, Gikirima Factory benefits greatly from the perfect coffee growing conditions offered. Smallholder farmers in the area plant tea, maize, bananas, gravellea, macadamia and eucalyptus for shade trees. The area experiences two seasons of rainfall, the long rains from March to May and the short rains from October to December. Production cycle follows the standard timeframe with main crop harvested October through December and fly crop harvested April through June. With 80% coming in during main crop and 20% coming in with the fly crop.
Wastewater is managed through the use of soaking pits. The water used for processing the cherry will spend time in the pits to insure that the nutrient rich water created during depulping will not be returned to the nearby water source without proper treatment. This additional step will cut down the risk of contamination, after adequate time for reabsorption the water will be recirculated. Currently, Gikirima is using five pits for this process.
Adhering to strict quality control measures the cooperative has a field committee responsible for carrying out all activities associated with coffee production. The field committee will carry out field days, visiting the farmers. On these days they will check on intercropping guidelines, weeding, pruning, spraying, application of fertilizer, mulching and provide technical advice. They will also assist in the selection of seeds. They spend some time campaigning for farmers who have abandoned their coffee to return.
Processing: After picking, ripe cherries are brought to the factory by smallholder farmers, before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. The factory is currently using a disc pulper 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, travelling through channels to the soaking tank the coffee is carefully cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and total production volume undergoing processing. Drying can take from 7 to 15 days in total. Frequent turning and sorting will happen during the drying stage.
(information courtesy of Condesa)