Co-op: Thiririka Farmers F.C.S.
Origin / Origine: Kiambu, Kenya
Membres/membership : 600 Fermiers / 600 Farmers
Procédé / Process: Lavé/washed
Variété / varietals: Ruiru 11, SL28, SL32, Batian
Notes: mûre, lime, lavande, fudge/ blackberry, lime-ade, lavender, fudge
Popped the 1st batch in the roaster last week & WOW! Such a bright, sparkling coffee! When we cup PSS (Pre Shipment samples) Or Arrival samples, often times it doesn't tell the whole story. It's often a little quiet in flavour, or worse...too roasty : /
Once we get it into the big boy & start working, that's when we know what's really going on, & in this case, there's a LOT going on! We're so happy to have this coffee as our JuiceBomb #4. Can't believe it's been 4 years since the 1st one.
The Real Deal
It's always really tough to work through the difficulties regarding consistency in our Kenyan offering, for now anyway. Getting the same coffee year in, year out is very difficult because of how the trading is done. The lots are auctioned off every year & because it's always a kind of "Lottery", repeating the exact lot you had the previous year is extremely difficult. Working with the same Co-Op/Factory & having consistent quality is tough. Each year we have to hope to get something that we ultimately love, from a source we have worked with before & something we know everyone can enjoy. Kenyan coffees are some of the most expensive, that's reflective in the pricing as you're probably all aware of if you're fans. In all honesty, every year we definitely have a cap on what we can spend at origin, but we make sure to make less on our Kenyan just so we can offer it as accessibly as possible. It's the real deal. That's our reality with Kenya right now but we have plans for the future to shake up the system & get closer to the people that make these incredible complex cups of coffee possible.
About Ndundu & Kenya
Ndundu Factory is a 600 member group, part of the larger Thiririka Farmers Cooperative Society that also includes neighboring Kiganjo and Githembe Factories as well. Ndundu members cultivate over 300 hectares of coffee across the Kiganjo division of Kiambu County, close to Nairobi and in the heartland of the Central Highlands.
Kenya is an enigma. It occupies a top spot in specialty – Kenyan top lots are always amongst the most expensive of any harvest. But yet it’s a country where coffee production is dropping year over year. Kenya is a place where traceability is given, but knowing what you want and how to get it are two different things. Rarely do we find partners more capable, and loyalties more difficult to navigate than we do in Kenya. For all the aforementioned reasons, competition in Kenya is fierce, making prized coffees feel like even more of a success.
However, no matter how formally the industry is structured, coffee still remains a system of people. And in a country where farmers own their own cherry production, there is additional power to connecting with coffee’s most important stakeholder. Farmers can, for example, point you to the best collections from every harvest, or delay sending their lots to auction to give you another week to sample. At request they can change the way they separate lots, bringing new products to market in a year that would take other countries nearly a decade to do.
But experimentation is not the name of the game. With washed coffees working so well, you won’t find many a manager willing to mess around with different fermentations, flotation, drying times or with certifications like organic.
The experiment instead is that of business model. How do cooperatives normalize earnings to keep their members engaged in coffee? How do we take away red tape to encourage more farmers to plant more coffee, as opposed to corn or dairy? How can small estates split off and succeed under their own pulping license? Is it better to sell through auction or directly to an international buyer – can you afford to cut out your marketing agent? Once you speak to these problems you are speaking the language of coffee in Kenya – this is a country that already knows how to "coffee".