Kenya is a country known for its rich diversity. It boasts a landscape of mountainous terrain alongside open plains, deserts, awe-inspiring forests, valleys and lakes, and is therefore abundant with wildlife and scenic beauty. Its topography and varying altitudes are probably what makes the country's Arabica coffee harvest so great.
The country currently has a total yearly production of approximately 760,000 60kg bags, and is home to around 150,000 coffee farms and cooperatives. Its best coffee is arguably grown and processed in the country's Central Highlands on the expansive slopes of Mount Kenya. Here, the fertile volcanic soil and altitudes of up to 1800 meters above sea level help to create unbelievably complex and delicious coffees. This is where Kiamutuira Coffee Factory is located.
The factory, based in Kirinyaga County, is a hub for 374 of the area's active farmers. Since 1996, farmers have brought their coffee harvests here to process before they are graded, bagged and then exported all over the world to be roasted. The factory and its manager Mwai N Riko have an excellent reputation within the specialty industry. Riko receives assistance from Coffee Management Services (CMS) to help promote and train in Good Agricultural Practices. He encourages farmers to undergo certifications with Utz, Rainforest Alliance, 4C and FairTrade, and has a long-term goal to increase production - further elevating the quality of Kenyan coffee as a whole. This is achieved through farmer training and regular seminars in sustainable farming methods. Riko and CMS both strongly believe in establishing transparent, trust-based relationships with the smallholder farms and families involved in the running of the factory. Through giving advances for school fees and farm inputs, Kiamutuira is helping to support industry growth throughout Kenya, and is ultimately having a very powerful impact on the lives of local communities. The aim is to mutually benefit and provide support to everyone involved in the line of production.
At Kiamutuira, the coffee is delivered by smallholders and is then processed using the 'washed' method. This means that water floatation tanks are utilised in order to separate dense beans, and sends them through channels into a fermentation tank. The beans that float to the top of the tank are immature, and are therefore discarded. The first stage of the fermentation process lasts for around 24 hours, after which the beans are washed and then sent to a secondary fermentation tank. Here, the beans are left for a further 12-24 hours. When the fermentation process has been completed, the beans are separated again and then cleaned of their mucilage. The washed beans are taken to soaking tanks where they are left for another 24 hours, allowing amino acids and proteins in the cellular structure of the beans to develop. This is to ultimately increase the quality of the bean. After this long and repetitive soaking process, the beans are dried on platforms in the sunshine, turned regularly, and are packed in GrainPro sacks ready for shipping.
The processing of the coffee cherries at Kiamutuira Coffee Factory might be labour-intensive and arduous, but it always contributes to a greater complexity of flavours and higher levels of acidity in the resulting brew. Kenya is famed for consistently producing coffee of this high quality.
At Coaltown, we roast Kiamutuira lightly to draw out the unique complexities and nuances of the beans. It is at its best when brewed through filter methods, which really enhance its sweet clementine and plum flavours. Kiamutuira makes a balanced cup with a clean, citric acidity.
You can purchase a bag here!