Minimum resting period
Filter 7 days | Espresso 14 days
For all brew methods
John’s estate is part of the Hands On Coffee project, aiming to reduce this impact through careful use of artificial fertiliser, and optimising water usage for processing.
John Michuki produces some exceptionally clean and crisp expressions of Kenyan terroir at Gakira, which is planted with mainly SL28, and a small amount of the rust resistant Ruiru 11 hybrid. Due to the dominance of the washed process in Kenya, and the many floating, sorting and soaking steps often used, the water usage here is incredibly high, much higher per kilo of coffee produced than any other country we buy coffee from. Kenyan cooperatives also often have affiliations with large fertiliser companies, giving members subsidised and direct access to chemical fertilisers and pesticides, meaning these are often used to a very high degree in the Kenyan coffee lands. The system of grading, where large bean ‘AA’ lots fetch the highest prices, also lead many producers to fertilise very aggressively in order to grow larger fruit, and therefore increase their income. All of this leads to a great deal of contaminated waste water from processing, and fertiliser runoff from farmlands. If not dealt with carefully, this can be catastrophic for vital Kenyan groundwater supplies. This is part of what the Hands On Coffee project aims to change. They often work with individual producers rather than on a cooperative level, meaning less influence from large fertiliser companies, and more traceability. Furthermore, they are championing the natural process as a method of increasing quality, creating a point of difference in a washed coffee dominated market, which in theory leads to higher prices.
This coffee is a washed SL28 and Ruiru 11 blend, with a delicate tea-like structure lifted by fresh red fruit notes.
John brings a wealth of experience to the project, both from his time as an engineer and from his years helping his mother on the farm.
John Michuki produces coffee on the Gakira Estate in the region of Kitisuru, not far outside Nairobi. Gakira sits at 1800 masl, not far from the border with Kiambu, where we have purchased a few lots in the past. He recently took over the land that has been in his family for several generations, and now runs day to day operations with his mother. He previously worked in oil and gas, but left to follow a more sustainability-focussed career, joining a wave of Kenyan coffee producers aiming to reduce the environmental impact of their industry. Bringing his engineering experience, as well as his years of experience on the farm together with his mother, John is now working with Belco’s ‘Hands On Coffee’ project to create coffee in a less impactful way.
They have implemented much more careful drying processes both for washed and natural lots, with the project financing expanded drying beds, plastic protection from rains and high sun, and moisture meters for consistency. The importance of ventilation and temperature control during drying was emphasised using this new equipment, leading to more consistently and carefully dried coffees. This is a huge factor in processing especially natural coffees, alongside a constant need for sorting and harvesting consistently ripe fruit.
VarietalSL28, Ruiru 11
The washed process involves completely removing both the cherry and the mucilage from the outside of the parchment with the use of friction, fermentation and water. After being harvested, the coffee cherry is then sliced open by either a metal or a sharp plastic blade.
The two seeds (also known as beans) are pushed out of the cherry, which leaves the seed with mucilage as their outermost layer. It is essential in the washed process that all mucilage is removed from the seed which leaves only the flavour that developed in the cell structure of the seed prior to processing.