This year every sample we tasted from the Karimikui Coffee Washing Station (CWS) was particularly good, whether an AA, AB or PB grade. The particular lot we have selected to roast got a little delayed on its way to us, hence releasing it this late in the year, but thankfully it is still tasting incredibly vibrant, fresh and dynamic. Thank you for waiting patiently!
The Karimikui CWS is run by the Rungeto Farmers’ Co-Operative Society (FCS). They also oversee Kii CWS and Kiangoi CWS, from whom we’ve also tasted delicious coffees over the years. The region, Ngariama, was previously home to one of the largest FCS in Kenya, called Ngiriama FCS. It was liquidated in 1996 which allowed smaller FCS to snap up their assets, like Rungeto taking over Karimikui, Kii and Kiangoi. As well as processing coffee cherries the FCS has created job opportunities and improved the local community’s infrastructure by opening a fuel station and a dairy cooling facility. Some of the smallholder coffee farmers who deliver coffee cherries also have cattle, and so can sell their milk to the dairy. Around 500 smallholder farmers are delivering coffee cherries to Karimikui, some by foot, some on motorbike and some by ox-drawn carts. The farmers are able to attend agricultural seminars held by the FCS year round, as well as given access to fertilisers, with the aim of helping them to sustain their coffee production.
The coffee cherries are sorted through by hand for under- or over-ripe cherries, and after depulping, they are fermented for up to 24 hours. The washing stage is then done by periodically introducing clean water from the nearby Nyamindi river into the tanks and stirring the coffee, before sluicing away the dissolving fruit mucilage layers. Once squeaky clean the coffee is moved to a soaking tank to sit in fresh water for another 24 hours before it goes out to dry on raised beds. This can take between 12 and 20 days, depending on the weather conditions. The water used in processing is treated in two large soak pits before it makes it’s way back into the local water table, to break down the sugars, acids and particulates that accumulate during coffee processing.
Impeccable processing and drying conditions, coupled with predominantly SL28 & SL34 varieties grown in volcanic soils in a cool climate makes for an excellent expression of Kenya’s Kirinyaga country, with lots of tart red fruits and sweetness in the cup.
Ngariama, Kirinyaga, Kenya
Jammy sweet with sparkling acidity, this dynamic coffee has notes of raspberry, crab apple jelly, hibiscus and pink grapefruit. A bright and elegant cup.