Back in 2014 I took my very first trip to Kenya, my aim was not to meet producers but rather to get an insight into how the market works, and into how we can improve the quality of the coffee we buy from Kenya.
Much of Kenyan coffee comes from cooperatives, which means it's tough to go to visit a person or build a long-term relationship. That said, it is possible to get something interesting going and to work on projects together by speaking with the leaders of the co-ops and washing stations.
Othaya Farmer's Cooperative is based at the Gatuyaini Wet Mill, where they have a cupping room (and talented QC person) as well as their latest addition - a small roastery (where they hope to develop a market for their coffee inside Kenya). Othaya owns a number of wet mills, but we get our lots from the Chinga mill.
Chinga wet mill is managed by the rather tall Gary John, who we have asked to process a Natural lot for us. This was particularly difficult to get this year as the mill expected to be 75% down on cherries compared to the previous year (a problem all over Kenya this year, but particularly tough here). The Chinga mill is located near to the town of Othaya just east of the Chinga Dam. It's approximately 5 KM southwest of the town, and is in the Nyeri county part of Kenya.
The mill has some 783 members and each member only owns a small piece of land of an average 0.3 acres. They harvest the coffee themselves and then sell it to the mill, where it is processed and sent to the government auction.
The 'project' part of this coffee was that back in 2014 we asked the growers if they would naturally process a batch for us. They kindly agreed to do so, as long as we promised to buy it regardless of the final cup.
As you might have guessed that coffee was a big success and so here it is back for another year! They thought I was crazy because only the poor quality coffee in Kenya gets naturally processed, and they couldn't understand why I wanted only the best-quality coffee processed in this way. But they did it, you're welcome! ; )
In the cup this natural just keeps getting cleaner and cleaner year after year. Think alcoholic ribena with a rum and raisin finish (rumbena!) and a creamy, silky body.
- Country: Kenya
- Province: Nyeri
- District: Othaya
- Affiliated to: Othaya Farmer's Cooperative
- Farm: Chinga
- Processing: Natural
- Varietals: SL28 & SL34
- Average rainfall: 1,200–1,500mm
- Altitude: 1,795 m.a.s.l.
- Drying method: Sun dried
- Harvest method: Hand picked
- Coordinates: 0°34'45.4"S 36°55'35.2"E
- Soil: Rich volcanic loam