The Kamuyu coffee factory is part of the Mutheka Cooperative Society and is situated in the Nyeri District close to the southwest flank of the majestic Mount Kenya. The nearest town, Karatina, is only two kilometres away. 800 smallholder farmers use the Kamuyu Factory and they are predominantly of the Kikuyu tribe. The smallholder coffee farmers of Kamuya have the advantage of growing SL 28 and SL 34 on rich volcanic and sandy soil at altitudes of between 1,700 metres and 1,800 metres above sea level. All of these factors along with meticulous processing and sorting lead to incredible complexity and pronounced acidity in the cup.
The coffee is handpicked by the smallholder members and delivered to the Kamuyu factory where it is pulped. This initially separates the dense beans from the immature ‘mbuni’s (floaters) using water floatation which means the denser beans will sink and be sent through channels to the fermentation tank. This first stage of fermentation will last for around 24 hours, after which the beans are washed and sent to the secondary fermentation tank for another 12-24 hours.
Once the fermentation process is completed, the beans enter the washing channels where floaters are separated further and the dense beans are cleaned of mucilage. The washed beans will then enter soaking tanks where they can sit under clean water for as long as another 24 hours. This soaking process allows amino acids and proteins in the cellular structure of each bean to develop which results in higher levels of acidity and complex fruit flavours in the cup - it is thought that this process of soaking contributes to the flavour profiles that Kenyan coffees are so famed for.
The beans are then transferred to the initial drying tables where they are laid in a thin layer to allow around 50% of the moisture to be quickly removed. This first stage of drying can last around 6 hours before the beans are gathered and laid in thicker layers for the remaining 5-10 days of the drying period. The dry parchment coffee is then delivered to a private mill and put into ‘bodegas’ to rest – these are raised cells made of chicken wire which allows the coffee to breathe fully. Coffee is traditionally sold through the country’s auction system, though recent amendments to the coffee law of Kenya have brought about the introduction of direct trading whereby farmers can by-pass the auction and sell directly to speciality roasters around the world. It is this system we have chosen for our Falcon Specialty offering since we believe it brings about better returns for the smallholder.