Region: Ngandori West, Embu County
Owner: Gakundu Farmers CO-OP Society
Altitude: 1650 masl
Varietal: SL-28 & 34
Processing: Washed & Sun Dried
Cupping Notes: Sparkling gooseberry and rhubarb acidity with a brown sugar and buttery body
Roasting Notes: City Plus
Kenya AA Gakundu Estate - Per Kg
The Gakundu Factory is located at 1650 masl in the location of Ngandori West in Emby County which borders the foothills of Mount Kenya. The factory is part of the Gakundu Farmer's Society which has about 1250 active members in total. The washing station is managed by Godfrey Gicovi who oversees all quality controls at the station to ensure high quality coffees are produced.
From funds set aside from the previous year’s harvest, members of the co-operative can access pre-financing for school fees, access to farm inputs and funds for emergency needs. The factory is receiving assistance from a field partner- Coffee Management Services (CMS). The long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, access to input and education.
In line with the rising awareness on the need to conserve the environment, the factory has dug the waste water soak pits away from the water source where the waste water is allowed to soak in back to the soil.
Coffee is handpicked by the smallholder members and delivered to the Gakundo factory where it is pulped. This initially separates the dense beans from the immature ‘mbuni’s (floaters) using water floatation which means the denser beans will sink and be sent through channels to the fermentation tank. This first 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 process 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 can sit under clean water for as long as another 24 hours. This soaking 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. The dry parchment coffee is then delivered to a private mill and put into ‘bodegas’ to rest – these are raised cells made of chicken wire which allows the coffee to breathe fully.
Situated on the equator on Africa’s east coast, Kenya has been described as “the cradle of humanity”, due to the fact that in the Great Rift Valley, palaeontologists have discovered some of the earliest evidence of man’s ancestors. Kenya’s topography is incredibly diverse. The country is a land of mountains, valleys, open plains, deserts, forests, lakes, savannahs and a golden sanded coastline. With its scenic beauty and abundant wildlife, Kenya is one of Africa’s major tourist destinations.
Coffee was introduced to Kenya by French Missionaries, with seeds from Reunion Island in the 19th century. Despite its proximity to Ethiopia – the birthplace of coffee – documents suggest that its introduction to Kenya wasn’t until around 1893, with the first crop of coffee yielding in 1896. Though large estates run by British colonial settlers were initially established, the Coffee Act of 1933 paved the way for the Kenyan Coffee Board, who began to oversee coffee production, quality control and auctioning. The introduction of the Swynnerton Plan in the 1950s successfully implemented family smallholdings and the cultivation of both cash and subsistence crops side by side. This dramatically increased smallholder incomes in the following decade, of which coffee accounted for around 55% of this increase. Today, around 70% of Kenya’s coffee is produced by smallholder farmers. Typically, a Kenyan smallholding or ‘shamba’ is comprised of shade-grown coffee, a house, the family cow and a variety of vegetables and fruit to sustain the family.
Kenya uses a grading system for all its coffee exports, based on the screen size of coffee beans. AA grades – above 18 screen size – reach the highest price at auction, followed by AB, PB, C and several under-grade qualities, respectively.
The development of hybrids during the 1930s brought about the highly successful SL28 and SL34 varietals – coffees that are now world famous and highly admired for their wonderful complexity in the cup and 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 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, are key to the unbelievable flavours that can be found within the cup. The best coffees in Kenya are also produced by cooperatives, of which there are around 300 comprised of between half a million to 600,000 smallholder members. About 60% of Kenya’s coffee is produced by cooperatives, with estates and plantations making up the balance.