Karie has 836 registered members, but like many Kenyan coffee factories, only a portion of them actively deliver coffee in any given year. Currently around 800 members actively bring cherry to be processed. Amongst the members are promoter farmers who are trained to teach small scale farmer members Good Agricultural practices (GAPS). This extension service has an immediately positive impact on coffee quality from the mill, as farmers emerge from trainings with a better understanding of the impact of fertilisation, pruning and quality-driven harvest techniques on the price that their coffee receives at auction and with direct buyers.
Despite its proximity to the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia, coffee growing was introduced in Kenya relatively late – by Scottish missionaries, initially, and then commercially around 1900. Despite the late start, today, it is a country renowned for having some of the best coffees in the world. Nonetheless, Kenya’s coffee sector faces challenges for the future, and low global prices combined with climate change and population growth have diminished the country’s output over the last decade.