New Kenya Ther’i AA coffee beans added to coffee range
Located on Africa’s east coast on the equator, Kenya is often referred to as “the cradle of humanity.” Some of the oldest evidence of human ancestors have been discovered by paleontologists in the Great Rift Valley. Kenya has a very diverse topography. The country features a coastline of golden sand, savannahs, lakes, forests, deserts, open plains, valleys and mountains. With its abundant wildlife and scenic beauty, Kenya is one of the major safari destinations in Africa, Coffee Direct are delighted to add to its range for both wholesale customer and our website customers.
The British introduced coffee to Kenya with seeds coming from the neighbouring country of Ethiopia as well as Reunion (Bourbon) island. During the 1930’s hybrids were developed and brought two varietals that were highly successful- SL28 and SL34. These coffees have become greatly admired and world famous for their incredible complexity and lemony acidity that is unrivalled. The best coffees in the country are grown in the Aberdare Mountains in the west and in the Central Highlands of Mt Kenya’s southern slopes in the north. The coffee grows on farms that have altitudes as high as 1,800 metres over sea level. The high altitude, in addition to the region’s fertile volcanic soils, are the keys to what makes these unbelievable flavours that are found within a cup of Kenyan coffee. Cooperatives produce Kenya’s best coffees. There are approximately 300 of these that are comprised of 500,000 to 600,000 smallholder members. Around 60% of Kenyan coffee is produced on the cooperatives. The balance is made up by plantations and estates. A ‘shamba’ or smallholding typically is comprised of various fruits and vegetables for the family to use, the family cow, a house and shade-grown coffee.
SL28: During the 1930’s the varietal was created by Scott Laboratories. At the time botanists were searching for different mutations of Typica and Bourbon. It has broad beans and copper coloured leaves. The coffee is native to Kenya. It has a fairly low yield, however the qualities that it possesses are greatly sought after. Some of the major characteristics of SL28 include complexity, balance, great sweetness and intense lemon acidity.
Smallholder members handpick the coffee. It then gets sent to the Theri factory and is pulped there. That separates the dense beans initially from the immature mbunis (floaters) through the use of water floatation, meaning that the denser beans sink and are sent via channels into the fermentation tank. The first fermentation stage lasts for approximately 24 hours. The beans are then washed and are sent over to the second fermentation tank where they spend an additional 12-24 hours. After the fermentation process is complete, the beans then enter into the washing channels. The floaters are further separated and the mucilage is cleaned from the dense beans. Once the beans have been washed they are sent to soaking tanks. They sit in clean water for up to 24 hours. The soaking process enables proteins and amino acids in each bean’s cellular structure to develop. This results in complex fruit flavours and higher acidity levels in the cup. This soaking process is thought to contribute to their flavour profiles, which is what coffees from Kenya are so famous for. Next the beans get sent to the first drying tables. They are laid out in a thin lawyer so that approximately half of the moisture can be removed quickly. The initial drying stage lasts approximately 6 hours. The beans are then gathered and laid out in thicker layers for a 5 to 10 day drying period. Then this dry parchment coffee gets delivered to private mills and placed in ‘bodegas’ where it is allowed to rest- they are raised cells that are made from chicken wire that allow the coffee to fully breathe.
Traditionally coffee is sold through Kenya’s auction system. However, there have been recent amendments made to Kenya’s coffee law that have introduced direct trading, allowing farmers to bypass the auction system and directly sell to specialty roasters from all over the world. That is the system that we have selected for our offering called Falcon Specialty because we believe it provides the smallholder with better returns.