This coffee was produced by numerous smallholder farmers of the Kagaari South Farmers Cooperative Society that delivers to the Kangunu Coffee Mill, located in Kenya’s Embu district near the town of Runyenjes. This region, on the slopes of Mount Kenya, is renown for producing some of the best coffees coming out of Kenya. Kangunu Coffee Mill was established in 1966 and has stood the test of time; today the cooperative society has more than 2,500 members and nearly 1,000 deliver to Kangunu Coffee Mill.
Temperature in the region ranges from 12 to 25 degrees Celsius year-round, with rainfall of about 1,600mm per year. Production happens once from March to June and again from October to December. The average smallholder farm size is less than an hectare with half an acre planted in coffee for an average of 250 trees per farmer.
Farmers selectively handpick the ripest, reddest cherries, which are then either delivered directly to the cooperative’s wet mill or received at one of 4 collection points and then ferried over on the same day. Cherries are stringently hand sorted prior to pulping, with damaged and under-ripe cherries being separated out from the red, ripe lots. The mill uses a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. Then uses electrical pumps to move water from the nearby Kangunu stream to reservoir tanks all while recirculating water for conservation.
After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before being washed through washing channels, separated for density, soaked and spread out on raised drying tables. The coffee is then dried for between 7 to 15 days, depending on climate, ambient temperature and volume. While drying, the parchment is repeatedly sorted to remove any damaged or discolored beans and is covered during the hottest part of the day to maintain even temperatures.
In addition to the wide-spread SL28 and SL34, this lot contains a small amount of Ruiru 11. Ruiru 11 is named for the station at Ruiru, Kenya where it was developed in the ’70s and released in 1986. Although composing very little of cooperative members’ total production, Ruiru 11 is slowly becoming more widespread in the region due to its resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust. It has also been backcrossed with SL28 and SL34 to ensure high cup quality.
Kangunu Coffee members receive assistance and support from Coffee Management Services (CMS), through farmer training, input access, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and a sustainable farming handbook updated and distributed annually. CMS ultimately seeks to establish a transparent, trust-based relationship with the farmer, helping to support a sustained industry growth in Kenya by marrying premium quality to premium prices for the farmers.