Kamwangi AA, Kirinyaga Kenya - Filter Roast
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ALTITUDE 1,550-1,650 meters above sea level
Kamwangi is a washing station—or factory, as they are called in Kenya—that is owned by the New Ngariama Farmer’s Cooperative Society, in the Kirinyaga district. It sits on the slopes of Mt. Kenya in the agriculturally rich Central Province at 1,610 meters above sea level.
New Ngariama was originally part of a much larger society called Ngariama, which was established in the 1950s. This society was split up into smaller cooperatives, and New Ngariama is one of them.
The leader of New Ngariama is Ephantus Mangu, who has been the chairman for the last decade. The cooperative has three washing stations: Kamwangi, Kainumui and Kiamugumo. Kamwangi is the largest of the three and was established in 1982. The washing station has five permanent staff but employs up to 50 people during the harvest.
Around 500 members deliver coffee to Kamwangi. They have on average of 3–5 hectares of coffee (around 1,500–2,000 trees) planted at 1,550–1,650 meters above sea level. The main varieties of coffee grown in this region are SL-28 and -34, which account for 95% of all coffee produced. The region’s high altitude means that the coffee fruit is able to mature slowly, and this, combined with rich volcanic soil and careful processing, helps to highlight the inherent complex fruit flavours from the SL-28 and SL-34 varieties. Both cultivars have Bourbon and Moka heritage and are named after the laboratory that promoted their wider distribution in Kenya during the early 20th Century: Scott Laboratories.
In addition to the SL-28 and SL-34 that are almost ubiquitous around Kenya, this lot contains around 5% of the Ruiru 11 variety. Thisvariety is slowly becoming more widespread in the region due to its resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust and has been backcrossed with SL-28 and SL-34 to ensure high cup quality.
HOW THIS COFFEE WAS PROCESSED
All the coffee cherry is hand-picked by the small-holders and delivered on the same day to the washing station, where it undergoes meticulous sorting. This is also done by hand and is overseen by a ‘cherry clerk’ who ensures any unripe and damaged cherries are removed. The ripe cherry is then digitally weighed and recorded, and the farmer receives a receipt of delivery.
The coffee is then placed in a receiving tank and pulped using a disc pulping machine to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that protects the green coffee bean. After being pulped the coffee is sorted by weight using water, with the highest quality and densest beans being separated out from the lighter, lower quality beans.
The coffee is then dry fermented for 16–24 hours, to break down the sugars and remove the mucilage (sticky fruit covering) from the outside of the beans. Whilst the coffee is fermenting it is checked intermittently and when it is ready it is rinsed and removed from the tanks and placed in a washing channel.
The parchment covered coffee is then washed with fresh water and sent through water channels for grading by weight. The heavier coffee, which sinks, is considered the higher quality, sweeter coffee, and any lighter density or lower grade coffee beans are removed. The beans are then sent to soaking tanks where they sit under water for a further 24 hours. This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity.
After soaking, the coffee is dried on raised drying tables (also known as African beds) and turned constantly to ensure it is dried evenly, and so that any defects can be identifiedand those beans removed. Time on the drying tables depends on the weather, ambient temperature and processing volume: taking anywhere from one to three weeks to get to the target moisture of 11–12%.
The coffee is then rested in parchment and, when ready for export, dry-milled at Kahara Bowa mill in Thika, around a one hour drive from Nairobi.