KENYA kiunyu AB
Cooperative: Karithathi FCS
Washing Station: Kiunyu
Farmers: 1600 active members (608 female, 992 male)
Cultivar: SL28 - SL34 - Ruiru 11 (Grafted with SL 28)
Altitude: 1640 masl
Process: Fully washed with double fermentation
Harvest: November 2021 - January 2022
Cherry Price | FOB Price: 5.38 USD/kg | 8.67 USD/Kg
Screen | Moisture | Density: 15-16 | 10.7% | 0.721 g/ml
Packaging: 30 Kg with GrainPro
Notes: Anise, apricot, almond, chocolate
The first time we cupped Kiunyu in 2017, when the washing station was far from famous, we were so impressed with the quality of the lot that a couple of days later we went to visit the cooperative located in a very remote area of Kenya, on the slopes of Mount Kenya, right on the border of Kirinyaga and Embu counties. Later that year we bought the lot, and since then Kiunyu has become one of the most recognized names when we talk about Kenyan specialty coffee.
The Kiunyu factory is a member of the Karithathi Farmers' Cooperative Society. It was established in the 1960s and works with the Kagumoini, Kianduma, Kiambuuku, Kiambatha, Gatura and Kiamuki villages. It has approximately 1,600 members (small coffee farmers), who cultivate a total of 175 hectares of land and produce 218,669 kg of green coffee annually.
The area experiences moderate bimodal rainfall and temperatures ranging between 13 and 24 °C throughout the year. The main coffee varieties grown here are SL34, SL28 and Ruiru 11. The SL34 variety represents 60% of all coffee production in the area. Most farmers in the area are tea growers and, to a lesser extent, coffee growers.
After harvesting, the coffee cherry is deposited at the factory, where it undergoes a thorough washing method. Water is pumped from the Karithathi River to storage tanks for pulp separation and recirculation. After pulping, the coffee is dry fermented overnight before being washed, then steeped for 12-18 hours and finally sent to raised African beds for drying and grading.
Despite its proximity to Ethiopia, coffee was not cultivated in Kenya until 1893, when the "Fathers of the Holy Ghost" (French catholic missionaries), introduced coffee trees from Reunion Island and planted them near Mombasa.
** Interesting Fact: The Bourbon variety was first cultivated on a small island that today is known as "Reunion Island". It is located in Africa, in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. It is considered a region of France and until 1789 its name was "Bourbon Island", in honor of the royal house of the Bourbons. **
In 1896, the first plantations were introduced in Kiambu - Kikuyu district, a very fertile area, which in 1912 already saw large plantations of several acres of expansion; there were mainly cultivated Bourbon and Mokka varieties.
While credit for the introduction of coffee in Kenya corresponds to Catholic missionaries, were the English settlers, who accelerated the importance of coffee in the Kenyan economy. Large-scale production of coffee and other crops, were heavily increased to export them into Europe, in order to pay the exorbitant debts generated by the construction of the railway connecting Uganda with the port of Mombasa in 1901.
After Kenyan independence from the British Empire in 1963, the long experience and extensive knowledge about coffee production was very well adopted by small local farmers, resulting in the high quality standards with which today Kenyan coffee is known in the world.
There are two particular varieties that attract the most interest from specialty coffee buyers in Kenya, these are: SL 28 and SL 34.
Scott Laboratories were contracted to develop new cultivars between 1934 and 1963. The development of the SL cultivars was based on the Mokka and Bourbon varieties, which were introduced to Kenya by Scottish and French missionaries, from Yemen and Reunion Island, respectively.
Today, these two varieties are responsible for most of the high-quality coffee produced in Kenya, but they are susceptible to coffee leaf rust and other diseases.
Kenya has done a great job trying to find disease resistant varieties. "Ruiru 11" was the first variety considered a success by the "Kenyan Coffee Board". Unfortunately, it has not been well received by importers and the specialty coffee industry in general, because it's considered to have a poor cup quality.
In an attempt to change the "low organoleptic reputation" of Ruiru 11, farmers are grafting it with SL28. For the bottom they use the SL 28 root which is much longer than the Ruiru root and can absorb more nutrients from the fertile volcanic soils of Kenya. For the top they use Ruiru 11, which is more resistant to coffee diseases than SL. They do this to get the best of both worlds, the cup quality of SL 28, with the strength and high productivity of Ruiru 11.