After cherries are carefully handpicked by the producers during the harvest, they are carried to the wet mill to be sorted. They are spread out on a patio to ensure all underripe cherries and foreign material are removed before continuing. Pulping occurs next, which involves the cherries first being dumped into a hopper where water from the local River Mukengeria is utilized to clean the cherries and funneled to the pulping house. Here, two abrasive slabs remove the exterior fruit from the coffee. Next, the beans are rushed in channels of water, simultaneously removing floating, low quality coffee. Dense beans drop into a tank of water to ferment over night. After the exterior mucilage has broken down enough, the coffee is washed vigorously in channels, with frequent stirs from a wooden paddle.
Finally, the coffee is dispersed evenly on raised beds to dry in the open sun under careful supervision. If the sun is too harsh or rain is in the forecast, the coffee is covered and protected. As soon as the moisture content reaches 10-12%, the coffee is bagged and delivered to the dry mill to be hulled and prepared for export.
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.