Gichugu Coffee Factory lies at an altitude of 1680 meters above sea level on the expansive slopes of Mt. Kenya region. The factory started to operate in the early 1970’s and is situated in the coffee zone around Mt Kenya region which has deep rich red volcanic soils ideal for coffee production. Gichugu receives cherries from the nearby villages of Kamviu, Gichugu and Manyatta.
The factory has 8 soak pits which are enough for draining waste water, and there is no river nearby which can be polluted. Nappier grass is planted nearby along with trees to help in purifying the waste water.
After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp – known as the wet processing method. Wastewater is discarded in soaking pits, and is also recirculated for conservation. The factory is using a 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 it is cleaned, soaked and spread out on the raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and volumes under processing, and can take from 7 to 15 days in total.
The factory is receiving assistance from Coffee Management Services (CMS). Their long-term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, input access, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and a sustainable farming handbook updated and distributed annually. Our wish is to establish a transparent, trust based relationship with the farmer, helping to support a sustained industry growth in Kenya, whilst bringing premium quality to our customers, and premium prices to the farmers.
Through the pre-financing they receive, farmers are given advances for school fees and farm inputs. The factory manager is re-trained every year by CMS, in addition to field days being held by the minister of agriculture and agrochemical companies that deliver inputs to the farmers. Demonstration plots are planted at the factory to reinforce the best practices taught throughout the year.