Slopes of Mt. Kenya
Coffee was introduced to Kenya by the British with seeds from neighbouring Ethiopia and also from Reunion (Bourbon) island. The development of hybrids during the 1930s brought about the highly successful varietals, SL28 and SL34 – coffees that are now world famous and highly admired for their wonderful complexity in the cup with unrivalled lemony acidity. The country’s best coffees are grown in the Central Highlands on the southern slopes of Mt. Kenya to the north and in the foothills of the Aberdare Mountains to the west. Here the coffee is grown on farms with altitudes of up to 1,800 metres above sea level – and this, along with the fertile volcanic soils of the region, is the key to the almost unbelievable flavours that can be found within the cup.
The coffee is handpicked and delivered to the factory where it is pulped. Dense beans are separated from the immature floaters using water floatation – denser beans will sink and be sent through channels to the fermentation tank. This stage of fermentation will last for around 24 hours, after which the beans are washed and sent to the secondary fermentation tank for another 12-24 hours. Once the fermentation is completed, the beans enter the washing channels where floaters are separated further and the dense beans are cleaned of mucilage. The washed beans will then enter soaking tanks where they sit under clean water for as long as 24 hours. This process allows amino acids and proteins in the cellular structure of each bean to develop which results in higher levels of acidity and complex fruit flavours in the cup – it is thought that this process of soaking contributes to the flavour profiles that Kenyan coffees are so famed for. The beans are then transferred to the initial drying tables where they are laid in a thin layer to allow around 50% of the moisture to be quickly removed. This first stage of drying can last around 6 hours before the beans are gathered and laid in thicker layers for the remaining 5-10 days of the drying period.
About this coffee
Cupping score: 88.25
Processing station: Kabare
Producer: Smallholder farmers
Altitude: 1700 – 1900 MASL
Variety: SL28 and SL34
SL28 was identified on a single tree in Tanzania and soon became ubiquitous thanks to its drought-resistance, high yield, and desirable cup profile. Since then, it has spread to other coffee-growing origins, including Uganda and Central America.
SL34 is also part of the Bourbon-Typica family and has adapted to grow in high altitude areas with a good amount of rainfall.
Kenyan coffees are first de-pulped to remove the fruit from around the bean, then are fermented and washed—sometimes in more than one cycle of both—and soaked in water. The beans are then dried and rested on specially built raised beds.