Cupping Notes: Nice intensity, raspberry, plum, boysenberry
About This Coffee
This coffee was grown by smallholder farmers living in and around Nguku Factory in Kenya’s Murang’a County. Farms sit at altitudes of 1,700 to 1,900 meters above sea level along the western slopes of the Aberdare Mountain range. The climate and geography of Murang’a, particularly in this area, are well-suited for coffee production. The county boasts the fertile red volcanic soil and cool temperatures that coffee loves and for which this renowned growing region is known. Nguku is one of four factories (as wet mills are known in Kenya) operated by the Kahuhia Coffee Growers Cooperative Society (CGCS). Kahuhia CGCS, in total, has approximately 3,000 active members.
Kenyan coffees are graded by size. AB grade coffees are the second-largest sizing and offer very comparable flavor profile to AA grades, at less of a premium.
Country of Origin: Kenya
Producer Type: Small Holder Farmers
Co-Op: Kahuhia Coffee Growers Cooperative Society
Growing Altitude: 1700 - 1900 MASL
Plant Species: Arabica
Varietals: Batian, Ruiru 11, SL28, SL34
History of Coffee in Kenya
It seems likely that coffee grew wild within the region that would become Kenya, buried deep inside impenetrable forests, or perhaps hiding in plain site; but it wasn’t until 1895 that missionaries both protestant and catholic attempted to grow coffee for commercial purposes. The 100 seeds from Reunion Island that would serve as progenitors to the Kenyan coffee industry arrived on a train, carried by priests belonging to an order known as “Holy Ghost Fathers.” On August 12th, 1899, they arrived at the spot that would quickly become the country’s capital city. One of the early protestant medical missionaries was Dr. Henry Scott. After his death in 1911, a new hospital complex was named after Dr. Scott and when the department of agriculture took over the complex in 1923 they kept the name: Scott Agricultural Laboratories, or “Scott Labs.” This is the origin of the “SL” in SL28 and other coffee varieties selected at the lab.
Growing Coffee in Kenya
Coffee is grown through the highland regions of Kenya, including Kisii, Nyanza, and Bungoma in the west; Nakuru and Kericho in the Great Rift Valley; Machakos, Embu, and Meru to the east of Mt. Kenya; and the Taita hills near the coast. The largest and oldest coffee growing areas are the central highlands, particularly Nyeri, sandwiched between the foothills of Mt Kenya to the east and the Aberdare mountain range to the west. Most coffee in Kenya is grown between 4,500 and 6,500 feet. Nearly all of Kenya’s 700,000 coffee producers are small land holders belonging to cooperatives. Most common varieties in Kenya are Ruiru 11, SL28, SL34, and K7. SL34 and K7 were developed from heirloom bourbon known as “French Mission,” which was the primary variety grown prior to the 1930’s that can still be found today, as can Blue Mountain on some farms. Kenyan coffees are graded by screen size and while there are several grades, specialty coffee is AA, AB, or PB (peaberry), used in combination with quality grade FAQ or FAQ Plus (Fair Average Quality).
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