Fermentations in Muranga, Kenya

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Kenya

Murang'a County

In November 2019 we traveled to East Africa to work in Kenya, a wonderful origin we love due to the great diversity of culture and a truly unique country in terms of coffee, with unbeatable lots: intense, juicy and vibrant, and most commonly know for its fully washed, double fermentation processes. 

The country takes its name from the highest summit, Mount Kenya, and 30% of its GDP comes from tea and coffee, propelled by its privileged geographical situation, since it's located on the equator. 

Murang'a County is a fertile area with phosphoric, clayey soils, as it sits in foothills of the Aberdare range. Farms are located at great altitude, and being not too far from Nairobi, historically, both Murang'a and Kiambu counties have a great presence of small independent producers.

 

Farms

Ibutiti and Chemar

This time we worked with two small independent farms that we already know very well: Ibutiti and Chemar, both located at around 1750-1850 meters above sea level. 

Ibutiti is managed by Mercy Murathe and her family. Although we have been working with her coffees for the past 3 coffee seasons, this is the first year we've implemented new recipes for both aerobic and anaerobic naturals at her farm. Mercy had been in the "backstage" of the farm for decades and since her husband William passed away, she happily took over the lead of the farm. 

Chemar, a neighbour to Ibutiti,  is a family home to brothers David and Alex Chege and their parents. The farm started by their father Paul, is where the new generation heading the farm grew up. Both anaerobic fermentations here were a family effort.

During the first couple of days, we calibrated with pickers and station workers, explaining the importance of picking only the rippest cherries, as this directly affects our cup results. The rest of the week was spent travelling between farms to control fermentation hours and data, and teaching the next steps farmers would have to follow through alone after our departure. 

 

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Experiments

Natural process

Our challenge here was to communicate the potential of introducing a new process, as Kenya is traditionally known for producing almost only fully washed coffees. 

At Ibutiti farm we implemented three new processes:

  • Natural Aerobic with Sleeping bag method
  • Natural with Anaerobic Cold Fermentation with Sleeping bag method
  • Natural with Hot Anaerobic Fermentation with Sleeping bag method

At Chemar farm we implemented two new processes:

  • Natural with Cold anaerobic cold fermentation with sleeping bag method
  • Natural with hot anaerobic fermentation with sleeping bag method

 

 

 

Community

Paul Chege Kiarie

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Mercy W. Gatuhi

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William W. Gatuhi

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