Kenya lovers rejoice! We're notoriously discerning about what Kenyan coffees we'll offer, and this year is a brilliant exception to the rule with not one, but three different Kenyans rolling onto our offer list over the coming months. This one has notes of Cola Bottles, Blackcurrants, and White Peony Tea. It's like a summery sparkling cocktail of a coffee.
We've only carried one Kenyan coffee at Skylark before... 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.
This AB lot was grown by a group of smallholder farmers who are all members of the Mutheka Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS) and deliver their coffee to Kiandu Coffee Factory. The facility lies in Kenya's renowned Nyeri County, near the town of Tetu.
Mutheka FCS is a very new organisation that was created in 2004 after the Giant Tetu Coffee Growers Co-Operative Society split. The FCS is located in Nyeri County, east of the Aberdare Ranges and west of Mt. Kenya, and manages seven factories with a total membership of approximately 6,000 small-scale coffee growers. Kiandu Factory has almost 1,900 registered members, making it one of Mutheka's largest. Only a small percentage of Kenyan coffee factories actively deliver coffee in any given year.
Handpicked coffee cherries are sent to the mill the same day, in which they are carefully sorted. Employees from the factory supervise the procedure, and any cherries that are underripe or damaged will not be accepted. Any unwanted coffee will get sent home, and the grower will have to find a location to dry it, with the coffee being provided only at the end of the season as low-quality 'Mbuni' — natural-process coffee with a low price. Farmer members are rewarded for picking and delivering only the ripest cherries.
The cherries are then pulped and transferred to one of the factory's fermentation tanks, where they will ferment for 12 to 48 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. Following that, the coffee is properly washed to remove the rest of mucilage before being graded. Depending on whether there is room on the factory's raised drying beds, the coffee will either be transported to dry on those or soaked in circulating water for up to 24 hours. The coffee will slowly dry here for 2 to 3 weeks, during which time it will be turned frequently and covered during the hottest period of the day.