Situated at 1,650 meters above sea level, this region is defined by its bright red soils, full of rich nutrients for coffee trees. The high altitude allows for ideal temperatures and rainfall for the slow maturation of coffee cherries. Smallholders in this region grow coffee on small plots of land, around 0.25 hectares, and pick the cherries during harvest to deliver to the mill. There are two harvests in the Murang’a County, a main crop occurring from October – February and a fly crop occurring from April – May.
Once the cherries reach the mill, the coffee is washed with water from the Gondo River. After the cherries are pulped, the coffee is placed in large tanks to soak in water and ferment. This allows for the breakdown of the exterior mucilage, normally lasting overnight. The coffee is then spread evenly on raised tables to dry in the open sun until a targeted moisture content is reached.
Producers and the Factory collectively value sustainability, and various projects have been enacted to reduce environmental impact. Wastewater used for processing is carefully placed into soak pits to seep back into the soil without polluting the local drinking source.
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.