Flavor Profile Red currant, chamomile, molasses, snappy
500 farmers organized around the Gitare Coffee Factory
1600 – 1800 masl
SL-28, SL-34, Ruiru 11, and Batian
Kiambu County, Kenya
Fully washed and dried in raised beds
Kiambu county sits adjacent to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, and is a coffee powerhouse. Along with an extensive community of coffee mills, exporter warehouses and quality labs, the Kenya Coffee College and Coffee Research Institute (near Ruiru Town, after which the disease-resistant hybrid is named), Kiambu is also home to many of Kenya’s largest and oldest coffee estates. Because of its proximity to Nairobi, Kiambu is urbanizing quickly. Ruiru Town is Kenya’s 6th largest urban municipality and if development continues the way it has, many expect a majority-urban county in just a few years. Yet Kiambu continues to be home to some of Kenya’s most established producer groups, including Kimaratia Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS).
Kenya’s coffee is dominated by a cooperative system of production, whose members vote on representation, marketing and milling contracts for their coffee, as well as profit allocation. The Gitare processing station, or “factory” as they’re known in Kenya, has over 500 contributing farmer members and is one of 3 total factories that comprise its local farmer cooperative society (FCS), called Kimaratia.
Kenya is of course known for some of the most meticulous at-scale washed processing that can be found anywhere in the world. Bright white parchment, nearly perfectly sorted by density and bulk conditioned at high elevations is the norm, and a matter of pride, even for generations of Kenyan processing managers who often prefer drinking Kenya’s tea (abundantly farmed in nearby Muranga county) to its coffee. Gitare factory is no exception: cherry is delivered each day by participating cooperative members, sorted for ripeness, and then depulped and fermented overnight. Once fermentation is complete it is washed with freshwater in long channels and sorted by density into “P1” (the highest quality), “P2”, “P3”, and “P light”. Each density grade is dried individually on raised beds between 15 and 21 days and stored separately for conditioning on the factory property. Gitare factory, like more and more factories in central Kenya, skips the post-fermentation soak in favor of expediency and chooses instead to let the washing stage clean the parchment to spec.
High FOB prices for great Kenyas, while the norm, are not a panacea, and in Kenya in particular the number of individual margins sliced off an export price before payment reaches the actual farms is many, leaving only a small percentage to support coffee farms themselves, and most often this arrives many months after harvest. However, Kenya coffees are sold competitively by quality, which means well-endowed counties like Kiambu achieve very high average prices year after year. As a result, the majority of the smallholders here, with a few hundred trees at the most, along with additional employment or land uses in the highlands, are generally considered to be middle class.