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Gakuyuini AA

An intense and berry-forward Kenyan coffee, with a heavy ripe plum sweetness.

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Gakuyuini AA

The Gakuyuini factory is located just outside the small town of Ngariama, in the eastern Kirinyaga region. Like much of the excellent coffee we find in Kenya, Gakuyuini is located on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, home to fertile volcanic soils and plentiful high altitude. Gakuyuini was built in 1982 and is the only mill owned by the Thirikwa Farmers Cooperative Society, of which there are just over 1500 members. Most of the farmers here have 200-250 coffee trees, spread amongst other crops and farming activities, like maize, macadamia and dairy. These other crops are used both for food and for selling at local markets. The fertile soils and excellent climate in this region lead to very high coffee quality, and the factory’s 3 full time workers careful control of cherry quality and fermentation ensure this reaches the final cup. All of this increases prices, in fact the Thirikwa Cooperative broke the Kirinyaga record for the price paid to its farmers in 2017. Most farmers here have coffee as their only main cash crop, so the cooperative is encouraging them to grow more coffee to benefit from these high prices, supporting them with seedlings and agronomic advice to maintain quality.

In the cup, this is the most berry-forward and intense Kenya we have received this year, with crisp blackcurrants and raspberries followed by a heavy ripe plum sweetness.

The Cooperative system in Kenya

Kenya operates on a system similar to its neighbour Ethiopia, where small-holder farmers are often part of cooperatives, delivering their harvested cherries to wet mills owned by the cooperative to be processed. In Kenya, these wet mills are more often referred to as factories, and many cooperatives own several within a small region, keeping the distance from farm to mill down. The cooperative 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 green 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 during fermentation stages 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.

Kenya’s traditional washed process is a big factor in the unique character of Kenyan coffees. The cherries are first depulped mechanically, as soon as they arrive at the factory. The cherries should arrive for depulping as soon as possible after picking, hence why cooperatives make a great effort to have factories located close to concentrations of smallholders. After depulping, the seeds are covered in a layer of sticky fruity pulp, or mucilage. The mucilage is fermented in large tanks for between 12 and 24 hours, breaking it down to a point that it can be thoroughly ‘washed’ from the seeds, using long washing channels. Then, before drying, the cherries are taken to another set of fermentation tanks, and fermented again under water, normally for a shorter time, between 10 and 12 hours. This ‘double soak’ is popular in Kenya, and is useful not only for enhancing the cleanliness and intensity of the final cup, but also as a second opportunity to sort for lower density floating seeds, as these are often of lower quality, or from unripe cherries. This attention to detail is the reason Kenyan coffees are so consistently of very high quality, and why they carry a price premium above many other producing countries.

About La Cabra

A focus on raw material

If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.

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Region Kirinyaga
Altitude 1600-1700 masl
Varietal SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11
Process Washed
Harvest November 2018


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 flavor that developed in the cell structure of the seed prior to processing.

La Cabra

Brew Guides

You can brew our coffees any way you want it is just a matter of the right ratios.





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