SUGGESTED BREWING METHOD:
-Alternative brewing methods (V60, Kalita Wave Dripper, Chemex, Aeropress, French Press)
location: Nyeri, Karatina
Mill: Gichathaini Factory
variety: Ruiru, SL-28,SL-34, Batian
altitude (MASL): 1700-1900
The Gichathaini Factory (wetmill) is one out of three wet mills of the famous Gikanda Cooperative Society in Nyeri in Central Kenya. Gichathaini, Kangocho, Ndaroini Gi-ka-nda- Gikanda. We have been buying coffee from the Gikanda Farmers Cooperative since 2012. The Factory is Fairtrade, UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certified.
The farmers from the community harvest and pick cherries in their gardens and transport the coffee to the factory for delivery and payment. The factory pays a small advance at delivery. The remaining payment will come after the coffee is sold. The better and well-managed wet mills are able to give more than 85% of the sales price back to the farmers. That’s after the costs of milling and marketing are deducted.
Process: Cherries are hand sorted for unripes and over ripes by the farmers before they go into production.
Pulping: A 3-Disc Agaarde pulping machine removes the skin and pulp. The coffees are graded by density into three grades by the pulper. Grade 1 and 2 go separately to fermentation. Grade 3 is considered low grade.
Fermentation: The coffee is dry fermented for 18-36 hours in concrete tanks under a roof that provides shade for better temperature control during fermentation.
Washing/Grading: After fermentation the coffees are washed and again graded by density in washing channels. They are sometimes soaked in clean water overnight.
Drying: Sun-dried 12 to 20 days on African drying beds. Time depends on weather conditions. Coffees are covered under plastic during midday and at night.
In this area the flowering period is usually between February and March, following this the trees will be ready for harvest from October to December.
Soil: Mainly Nitisol, red volcanic soil. Nitisols occur in highlands and on volcanic steep slopes and have developed from volcanic rocks. Nitisol generally has better chemical and physical properties than other tropical soils.
Kenya mainly produces fully washed coffees, and is considered by many as the world’s number one quality producer. There are more than 700 thousand coffee farmers (smallholders) representing about 55% of the production. The rest is mostly Estates.
Almost all our coffees in Kenya are made up of cherry delivery from smallholder farms, each with 1-2 hectares of land, with different crops, and some 100 coffee trees. The farmers are organised in Cooperative Societies that act as umbrella organizations for the Factories (wet mills), where the smallholders deliver their coffee cherries for processing.
Many of the farmers are surrounded by several wet mills and they are free to choose where they deliver their cherries. Due to the traditional auction system in Kenya, quality is rewarded with higher prices. The better factories will then attract more farmers by producing coffees that earn the highest prices, which they return to the farmers in the form of a second payment. After the cost of marketing and preparation is deducted, this can sometimes be up to 90% of the sales price.
The Kenyan system is transparent towards the farmers, and everything is more or less separated into small lots and different grades. If you buy coffees directly through the second window, the producers expect to get prices above the average auction prices at present time. In addition the system is transparent as everybody knows what’s going back to the society after the cost of milling and marketing is deducted.
In fact, many of the more serious societies and factories are competing, getting cherries in from the same areas, and are putting effort and pride in giving the best payback to their farmers. Some of the coops we work with have been able to pay up to 90% back to the farmers.
Cooperative: Gikanda Farmers Cooperative Society
The Gikanda Cooperative in Nyeri in Central Kenya has three factories (wet mills) and about 3000 active members (farmers).
The farmers are supported by farm management services to increase productivity and quality. Fieldwork carried out involves weeding, pruning, spraying, and the application of fertiliser, mulching and technical advice. Farmers can buy inputs on credit from the Baragwi Cooperative Society.
The Baragwi Cooperative has several factories (washing stations) under their umbrella.
The guidelines of the coop for coffee processing
Most of the processing in Kenya is standardised, but some variation will occur depending on the management and their philosophy. Still, the below will count for most of the best performing coffees coming out of Kenya!
Farming and production
A typical wet mill can have about 1000 farmers with about 0.5 hectare of coffee each, delivering cherries. The coop/factory gives a small advance payment at delivery. The remaining payment will come after the coffee is sold at market. The better and well-managed wet mills are able to give more than 85% of the sales price back to the farmers. That’s after the cost of milling and marketing is deducted.
Is done at the wet mills or at collection centers. When the farmers arrive at the place for delivery they would normally have to empty their bags on the floor (on a cover) to sort out unripe, overripe and CBD infected cherries.
When they start the pulper the cherries go by gravity in to the machine.
They normally use disc pulpers such as old three disc Agaarde or similar brands. The parchment flows from the discs with water allowing the parchment to be separated by density. The densest beans will sink and are pumped straight through a channel to the fermentation tank as P1 (parchment 1 and is what we generally are buying.
After pulping, the coffees are dry fermented (water is drained off) in painted concrete tanks. Normally they are fermented for 18-36 hours. Many factories do intermediate washing every 6 – 8 hours, meaning they add water, stir up the parchment and drain it again.
Washing and soaking
When fermentation is completed and the mucilage is dissolved the parchment gets washed in washing channels and graded again by density. The lighter beans will float off and the remaining dense parchment will normally be soaked in clean water up to 24 hours.
Drying and conditioning
After soaking, the coffees are skin dried at hessian mesh mats for skin drying up to one day. After a day the coffees are moved to the traditional drying tables. The coffee is then normally dried on a surface of jute clothing or shade net on top of the wire mesh.
The drying time varies between 12 and 20 days depending on weather and rainfall.