Nectarine, Blackcurrant, Dried Fig
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Varietal: SL 28, Ruiru 11, and SL 34
Elevation: 1700 - 1800 m.a.s.l.
We Taste: Nectarine, Blackcurrant, Dried Fig
This delicious Kenyan coffee hails from Muchagara, located on the western side of Kirinyaga District, south of the famous Mt. Kenya. With a long history dating back to 1959, the Muchagara factory is one of the oldest wet processing mill in Kirinyaga County. The surrounding area is fertile, making it an ideal location for establishing a factory.
Kenya produces predominantly fully washed coffees, and is considered by many as one of the best quality producers in the world. In Kenya, 55% of coffee production is represented by over 700,000 coffee farmers, also known as smallholders. The other 45% is represented by large farms also known as estates.
Each smallholder typically grown coffee on 1-2 hectares of land, most of them growing multiple crops apart from coffee. Farmers are organised in Cooperative Societies, or co-ops. These act as umbrella organisations for the factories, or wet mills, where the coffee cherries are consolidated for processing.
Farmers typically have the luxury to choose which of the several wet mills in the region they wish to deliver their cherries to. Due to the traditional auction system in Kenya, quality is rewarded with higher prices. The better factories will attract more farmers with higher prices, and even pay a second premium for coffees once the coffee is processed and sold for export. This can sometimes be up to 90% of the sales price.
At the mill, lots are kept separate for the auction, where the buyers can cup through the different grades available. Once the lots have been selected, the marketing agent negotiates the price directly with the estates, or cooperatives. This auction system provides transparency, where everything is separated by quality, and everyone knows how much is paid to the co-op after deducting the cost of milling.
During harvest, the cherries are delivered to the wet mill or collection centres, where the farmers will empty their bags on a designated area to sort out unripe, overripe, and other defects. Thereafter, the cherries are depulped, removing the skin of the coffee cherries. The parchment then flows down the washing channels, where it is sorted by density. The densest beans will sink, and are channelled into the fermentation tank as P1 (Parchment 1), which is the highest quality.
Once in the fermentation tank, the water is drained and the coffees are dry fermented in concrete tanks for 18-24 hours. This is interluded by intermediate washing every 6-8 hours, adding water, stirring and draining again. This helps to create consistency, evening out the fermentation throughout the lot.
Once the initial fermentation is complete, the mucilage is dissolved, and the parchment is washed in the washing channels , and graded once again. The lighter beans are floated off, and the remaining parchment is soaked in clean water for up to 24 hours. Then, the coffee is dried on traditional drying tables for 12-20 days depending on weather and rainfall, with a shade net layered over the table to protect against drastic temperature fluctuations.
This 'double fermentation' processing method is unique to Kenyan coffees, contributing to its fruit characteristics, giving rich berry flavours, and heavier body. In this cup, we're tasting ripe stone fruits and blackcurrants. The body is full, finishing with dried fruit sweetness that reminds us of figs.