Farm: Kaliluni Factory; Kaliluni Farmers Co-Operative Society Ltd
Varietal: SL 28, SL 34 & some Ruiru 11
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,450 to 1,600 meters above sea level
Owner: 1,475 members total FCS
Town / City: Kaliluni
Region: Machakos County, Eastern Province
Kaliluni AA - Kenya
This coffee was produced by numerous smallholder farmers, all of whom are members of the Kaliluni Farmers Cooperative Society delivering to the Kaliluni Coffee Factory, as wet mills are known in Kenya. These farmers all live in the hills around 60 km to the southwest of Nairobi. The region is less well-known for its coffee than nearby Kiambu and Embu, but its high elevation and rolling hills make the land very amenable to the production of high quality beans. The harvest here is earlier than some other regions in Kenya, making it perfect for those who just can’t wait for their Kenyan’s to arrive.
Kaliluni Factory is the F.C.S.’s only factory. Temperature in the region ranges from 12 to 25 degrees Celsius year-round, with a bimodal rainfall about 680 mm per year (somewhat drier than other regions, as well). Production happens once from June through to August. There is no significant fly crop. The average smallholder farm size is less than and hectare with half an acre planted in coffee for an average of 250 trees per farmer.
Kaliluni F.C.S. is part of the larger umbrella organisation, the Machakos Co-operative Union, along with around 28 other F.C.S.s. The Union offers the societies services that include coffee milling and marketing, Education and training and the provision of farm inputs at subsidised prices. These benefits enable producers to bring in a great, high quality harvest at exactly the right time. The Union also offers a wide range of services, including transport, bookkeeping and accountancy and also access to coffee seedlings.
In addition to the wide-spread SL28 and SL34, this lot contains a small amount of Ruiru 11. Ruiru 11 is named for the station at Ruiru, Kenya where it was developed in the '70s and released in 1986. Although composing very little of cooperative member’s total production, Ruiru is slowly becoming more widespread in the region due to its resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust. It has also been backcrossed with SL28 and SL34 to ensure high cup quality.
Farmers selectively handpick the ripest, reddest cherries, which are then either delivered directly to the cooperative’s wet mill or received at one of 4 collection points and then ferried over on the same day. Cherries are stringently hand sorted prior to pulping, with damaged and under ripe cherries being separated out from the red, ripe lots (the process is overseen by the ‘cherry clerks’ who are specifically tasked with overseeing and keeping records for payments). The factory uses disc pulper with three sets of discs to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, before being washed through washing channels (which separate for density), soaked and spread out on raised drying tables. The coffee is then dried for between 7 to 15 days, depending on climate, ambient temperature and volumes under processing. While drying, the parchment is repeatedly moved and sorted to remove any damaged or discoloured beans and is covered during the hottest part of the day to maintain even temperatures.
Kaliluni F.C.S. mills their coffee at the Lower Eastern Coffee Mill (LECOM), which was started in 2013. With the mill, farmers are making enormous savings on milling and transport costs they have previously been incurring when taking the produce for processing outside the region.
Screen sizing in Kenya
The AA, AB and other grades used to classify lots in Kenya are an indication of screen size only. They are not any indication of cup quality. The AA grade in Kenya is equivalent to screen size 17 or 18 (17/64 or 18/64 of an inch) used at other origins. AA grades often command higher prices at auction though this grade is no indication of cup quality and an AB lot from a better farm may cup better. PB (denoting Peaberry) is the smallest screen size.