Here at Hasbean, we take pride in our commitment to sourcing the finest specialty coffee from around the world. Recently our Green Coffee Buyer, Roland Glew, took off on an origin trip to Kenya, where he explored the Kiriga Estate and explored the intricacies of the coffee production process. During our chat, Roland shares his insights and highlights from his visit, giving us a sneak peek into the delectable world of Kenyan coffee.
Kiriga Estate: A Quality Coffee Production
Roland's first stop was the Kiriga Estate, situated near Thika town. Kiriga stands out amidst a landscape increasingly dominated by housing developments, flower growers, and macadamia plantations. The estate, owned by the Gakunga family, is a testament to Brian Gakunga's dedication, he has passionately continued his father's legacy of producing high-quality specialty coffee.
The unique aspect of Kiriga lies in its transition from primarily producing in the main crop season (October – December) to focusing on the early crop season (June – August). Notably, the estate has undertaken the challenging task of stumping a significant number of coffee trees, a decision influenced by the current processing challenges. Although this temporarily reduces production, the anticipated yield from rejuvenated plants is expected to be of superior quality.
Chinga Mill and Othaya Cooperative
Roland also explored the Chinga Mill, an integral part of the Othaya Cooperative. Nestled along the banks of the Chinga River, this small mill serves 550 active smallholders, each contributing their coffee cherries for processing. The Othaya Cooperative extends its commitment to quality with a dry mill, a local roastery, a coffee plantation for training producers, warehouses, and a QC lab.
Recent investments in new warehouses at Othaya showcases their dedication to efficient coffee storage, ensuring that processed coffee is appropriately managed before being sent for sale.
Takeaways from the Visit: Spotlight on Kenya's Coffee Landscape
During his visit, Roland spotted three key takeaways:
Transition in Harvest Seasons: Kenya experiences two harvests, an early and main crop, with the quality and volume of the main crop being considered superior. In recent years, Kiriga has seen a swing towards the early crop due to their unique environmental and plant conditions. This transition is complete now, with only a very small main crop coming in. Thankfully, they have been able to adapt to this, ensuring their early crop lives up to the quality usually associated with main crop coffees.
Innovation at Kiriga: Kiriga Estate is set to surprise us with its first Anaerobic Natural coffee this year—a venture born from the initiative of Brian Gakunga and wet mill manager Jorge. There is a lot of excitement around this experimental lot, and we can't wait to share this unique coffee experience with our customers.
- Political Reforms and Market Impact: Kenya's ongoing political reforms in the coffee sector, while aimed at maximising profits for producers, pose challenges in terms of delays in the milling system. These reforms may impact the timing of Kenyan coffee arrivals in 2024, with potential risks to quality.
Navigating the Future of Kenyan Coffee
Navigating the landscape of Kenyan coffee isn't without its challenges. Roland engaged in discussions about the political reforms affecting the coffee sector, aiming to understand their implications fully. Delays in the milling system and the potential impact on exportation have prompted us to work closely with our partners to ensure the swift and efficient delivery of the exceptional Kenyan coffees we've come to love.
Roland also explored opportunities within the European coffee market and identified emerging coffee producer types in Kenya. While there are vast opportunities for Kenyan coffees to establish a stronger presence, challenges persist, including stiff competition from other coffee-producing countries in Africa.
Roland's journey to Kiriga Estate and the Othaya Cooperative provided invaluable insights into the world of Kenyan coffee. As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of unique lots and navigate the evolving landscape, we remain committed to bringing you the finest coffees from around the globe. Stay tuned for the arrival of Kiriga Estate's Anaerobic Natural and other exceptional Kenyan coffees.