All of you Kenya lovers out there really surprised us this year by drinking up ALL of the 3 lots we bought this season, so we had to go searching again in January! We're notoriously discerning about what Kenyan coffees we'll offer, and we were really delighted to find this late-landing gem to add to our late winter/early spring list. This one has notes of Earl Grey Tea, Mandarin Oranges, and Apricots. It's like a summery sparkling cocktail of a coffee, and we think that it might be the best of the season, even though it's the last one we've added.
We've only carried one Kenyan coffee at Skylark before this growing season... Why? Well, we feel like the price you pay should match the quality you get, and Kenya's been difficult from that perspective for a while. Due to a combination of decreased volume and quality in the last 6 years (caused by climate change, politics, and some bad bacteria), Kenyan coffees are more expensive and less tasty than they used to be. This one absolutely bucks the trend and is worth every penny paid for it.
We sourced this coffee with our friends at Falcon Coffee, and you can read more below about the cooperative that produced it.
Kirura is part of the greater Komothai group of washing stations together with Riakahara, Barikongo, Kagwanja, Korokoro, Githongo, Gathiruini, Thiururi, Kaibu, New Thuita, Kanake, Gatuyu and Kamuchenge sites. Komothai was founded in 1959 and has 9951 members of which 1047 registered members deliver their coffee to Kirura. However, Komothai allows its members to deliver coffee to any of its 13 sites they like.
Kirura is located in Kiambu county on the slopes of the Aberdare Ranges right outside Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. It is one of the few old stations remaining in Kiambu as many have given up their land to real estate developers since recent days Kiambu has been branded a dormitory zone to the overstretched Nairobi County.
Being on the slopes of the Aberdare, Kiambu is well endowed with red volcanic soils, especially in the region around Komothai. The climate is warm and temperate with an annual rainfall of 681mm and temperatures of around 18 degrees Celsius. The rainfall in Kiambu is significant with precipitation even in the driest month. The high altitudes of around 1800 masl in combination with the temperatures and rainfall offer ideal conditions for coffee growing.
Kiambu is the food basket of Nairobi with large coffee, tea farms and dairies located here. Being the largest dairy-producing county, many growers adhere to organic fertilising practices using cow manure on coffee trees. Komothai has an estimated acreage of 2113 Ha under coffee. Due to the proximity of Kirura to the Kenya Coffee Research Institute in Ruiru, farmers can access certified seedlings and this may explain the high productivity over the years. The main varieties cultivated here are Sl 28, Sl 34, Ruiru 11 and Batian.
Kirura factory is managed by a board of 3 subject to changes as per directives from the main board at Komothai. Samuel Murigu is the manager and ensures the smooth running of all factory processes in Kirura along with his team. Some of their responsibilities include weighing coffee, hand-picking, green grading, storage, transportation, training, paying and addressing farmer complaints.
Farmers selectively handpick ripe cherries and deliver them to Kirura station. At the station, the cherry clerk oversees sorting accepting only red ripe cherry. Cherry is pulped and fermented for around 16-24 hours, no soaking is done. Coffee is then washed in clean water then laid to dry on raised beds. Frequent raking of parchment is done to ensure even drying. Drying parchment is covered during the hottest time of the day to maintain slow even drying and at night to shelter parchment from moisture. It takes approximately 14-20 days for parchment to dry.
Farm Name: Kirura Coffee factory
Coffee Varieties: Sl 28, Ruiru11, Batian, Sl 34
Flowering Season: February-March
Harvest season: May- July | October - December
Temperature: 18 degrees celsius
Altitude: 1,800 m Above sea level
Soil: Red Volcanic soils
Processing Method: Wet processing