Kahete comes from the wet-mill (or Factory in Kenyan parlance) from which it gets its name. It was founded in 1984 and is associated with the Rwaikamba Farmers Co-operative Society, led by manager John Muchiri Mwangi.
Kahete is located north of Nairobi in Muranga County, near the town of Gitugi. This area of Kenya is special, in the sense that it experiences two coffee harvests per year - the first from March-May and the second season being from October-December. The main varieties of coffee grown here are SL-28 and 34, and Ruiru 11. The SL-28 and SL-34 account for 97% of all coffee produced, while Ruiru 11 is around 3% of the total production.
The co-op is made up of 600 producers who have small farms located at an average of 1,800 meters above sea level. The high altitude means that the coffee fruit is able to mature slowly, and this, combined with rich volcanic soil and skillful processing all help to highlight the inherent complex fruit flavors from the SL-28 and SL-34 varieties. Both cultivars have Bourbon and Moka heritage and named after the laboratory that created these varieties and promoted their wider distribution in Kenya during the early 20th Century: Scott Laboratories.
After being carefully handpicked, the ripe cherry is brought to the factory by small-holder farmers, where it is weighed and then processed using the washed method. The coffee is pulped using a disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that protects the green coffee bean.
Waste water used in the processing is discarded in soaking pits, and is also recirculated for conservation. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before it is cleaned and soaked for a further 24 hours.
This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity and clarity in the cup. After soaking, the coffee is spread out on raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and volumes under processing, and can take anywhere from 7 to 15 days.
Members of the cooperative use funds from the previous year’s harvest to offer pre-financing for school fees, access to necessary farm inputs and funds for families’ emergency needs. They plan to increase coffee production through continued farmer training, ready access to inputs, best agricultural practice seminars, and providing the most current printed materials on sustainable farming. The high prices that these lots receive due to their high quality contribute to these goals.
Look for notes of melon, lemongrass, and green tea in your cup! We’re thrilled with both of our Kenyan lots this year and look forward to hearing which is your favorite.