FARM: Gitura Factory; Iyego Coffee Growers Cooperative Society
REGION: Muranga County
ALTITUDE: 1500 - 1700 MASL
VARIETAL: SL28, SL34 & Ruiru 11
This AB lot was produced by numerous smallholder farmers, all of whom are members of the Iyego Coffee Growers Cooperative Society (CGCS) delivering to Gitura Coffee Factory (as washing stations/wet mills are called in Kenya). The factory is located near the town of Kangema, in Kenya’s Muranga County.
Situated to the east of Aberdare ranges and South West of Mt. Kenya, Muranga County was home to the first administrative post set up by British missionaries in 1895. The area is inhabited and considered home to the Kikuyu people, Kenya’s largest ethnic group, accounting for nearly a 5th of the total population. Gitura, the name of the factory where this coffee was produced, is a Kikuyu word translating as locality. The land surrounding Muranga County is blessed with deep red volcanic soils, rich in organic matter and perfect for coffee farming.
Processing at the Gitura wet mill adheres to stringent quality-driven methods. All coffee cherries are handpicked and are delivered to the mill the same day, where they undergo meticulous sorting.
After being weighed and logged, the weight of the delivery and the farmer’s identification is recorded in the Cherry Clerk’s register and the cherries are introduced into the hopper to be pulped. Pulping will only begin when a sufficient quantity of cherries has been received.
Once the coffee has been pulped, beans are fully washed using clean river water to remove all traces of mucilage, during which time it will be graded.
After this, water used for processing is taken to one Gitura’s 6 soak pits.
These pits were created as part of the factories environmental conservation project, which allows the water to soak back into the ground slowly and safely. Next, the coffee will be delivered to dry on the factory’s raised drying beds. The coffee will dry here slowly over the course of 2 to 3 weeks, during which time it will be turned regularly and covered during the hottest part of the day. Finally, the dried coffee is taken to the dry mill for secondary processing. Here, coffee is hulled and graded by size and density, before being rebadged ready for export.
One of Kenya’s newest but most dangerous threats is that of climate change. Due to the nation’s geographical location in relevance to the equator, Kenya is lucky to receive two crops per year. Traditionally, the main harvest is carried out in October through to December, with the fly crop in June through to August producing minimal quantities. However, recent issues caused by changing climates have meant lower yields during the main harvest, and new quantity being produced in the fly crop. This provides strain to producers, whose yearly income and crop cycles are affected by this change.