This month we are continuing our focus on fresh crop coffees from East Africa. More have been arriving at the roastery, and we are excited to share more of our favourite finds from this year’s harvest. Kenya and Ethiopia operate on similar systems, where small-holder farmers are often part of cooperatives, delivering their harvested cherries to wet mills owned by the cooperative to be processed. The cooperative then pays a price to each farmer for their cherries, depending on the quality and quantity they delivered to the mill, and on the price they receive from coffee buyers for the processed product. Cooperatives often employ a mill manager, a very important role as they are ultimately responsible for the quality of the mill’s output. Their stewardship of coffee fermentation is a huge factor, but the quality of raw cherries arriving at the mill is also important to control. Careful sorting can help, but often managers will reject damaged or unripe cherries before they even enter the mill. Many cooperatives also pool their resources to provide support to their members, such as visits from agronomists, and low interest loans for investment in farms.
These two coffees come from mills in iconic growing regions, home to some of the best growing conditions in their respective countries. Mwendi Wega hails from Kirinyaga, on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, in a tightly spaced group of highly regarded growing regions, such as Nyeri and Embu. Mwendi Wega factory is actually located only 10 km from the border with Nyeri. The Hallo Fuafate mill is located near the town of Gedeb in the Yirgacheffe region, only around 20 km south-east of the Kochere mill, from which we sourced your coffee from last month’s box.
By sourcing coffees from trusted and dedicated partners in Africa, and through our single roast philosophy, we hope to showcase the character of these iconic regions in the most transparent and delicious way possible.
Stay bright and curious.
The Hallo Fuafate washing station is located close to Gedeb, just south of the town of Yirgacheffe, at 2030 metres above sea level. The station is named for the falls at the nearby hamlet of Hallo; the local dialect word for falls is fuafate. The washing station has supported many smallholder farmers in the area since its construction in 2010. The Hallo Fuafate station uses a slightly different fermentation process from much of Ethiopia, with a very long wet fermentation of 72 hours. This leads to the super clean acidity which we’ve been so enjoying in this coffee. A classic Yirgacheffe, we’re finding more citrus in this coffee than the slightly softer fruit notes in last month's Kochere.
The Mwendi Wega factory is located near the town of Kerugoya, in the Kirinyaga region. This coffee is grown by the small holder farmers of the Kerugoya Farmers Cooperative Society, most of whom grow coffee on plots of less than 0.5 hectares. The society was started recently, when a small group of farmers located just outside Kerugoya decided to pull their resources together and create their own small factory. The output of the factory is still quite small, but with a dedicated mill manager and ever-increasing quality, the price fetched for the coffee is rising. This lot consists of mainly SL28, along with a small amount of the disease resistant Batian and Ruiru 11 varieties. It is fermented using the traditional Kenyan double soaked process, a variant on the washed process which is popular in Kenya. This adds to the intensity of acidity and body that we so value in Kenyan coffee, here presenting itself as vivid notes of ripe blackcurrant, alongside a vibrant tropical fruit acidity.