Karogoto AA - Kenya

Karogoto AA - Kenya


Intense, Juicy, Ripe Berries, Blackcurrant.
Variety: SL28 & SL34
Process: Fully washed
Altitude: 1700-1800 m.a.s.l.
Producer: Karogoto Washing Station
Region: Karatina, Nyeri
250 g.

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Karogoto factory is part of the renowned Tekangu Farmers Cooperative Society. Tekangu consists of Tegu, Ngunguru and Karogoto factory after a merge of the three factories in 2005. Altogether, Tekangu services roughly 2900 producers.

One of the reasons why Karogoto produces such outstanding crisp and clear coffees is its drying field. A rare sight, the tables are all raised metal structures, not the usual wooden buildup. The metal drying tables have a much longer drying span and will not collapse as easily as the wooden ones. This is a huge advantage for a uniform drying process. The factory is still built to the old style, with the processing unit down the hill below the drying tables. After washing and grading, pumps bring the wet parchment up to the drying field. Another reason is the dedication and push for always better by Karogoto’s factory manager, Mr Ephraim.

Coffee production in Kenya dates back to the late 1880s. Around that time, French Missionaries reportedly brought seeds to the Taita Hills area. Introduced into the Kiambu district in 1896, coffee found a great combination of altitude, soils and temperature that resulted in the high quality for which Kenyan coffee is known across the globe. Still today, the biggest coffee growing area spreads from Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi, up to the slopes of Mount Kenya. The Counties in this region also known as Central Kenya – Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a and Nyeri – have an annual production of around 39,000 metric tons of green coffee. This accounts for almost 70% of the national production. Other coffee growing areas are Machakos (Eastern Kenya) and Bungoma (Western Kenya), but volumes are significantly smaller.

Although patterns may differ from area to area, in general, Kenya has two main rainy seasons which dictate two crops. Long rains occur from March to May, while a shorter rainy season occurs around October. The dry spells that anticipate those rains trigger two flowering periods: February/March for the country’s main crop, and September for the early or ’fly’ crop. Central areas are able to produce and deliver coffee in both seasons, whereas Machakos, for example, only produces coffee during the early crop season.

Coffee plants naturally find extremely fertile soils in Kenya’s growing regions. Soils are young and volcanic and very rich in organic matter. The altitude in coffee growing areas ranges from a minimum of 1280m in Embu (Eastern part of Mount Kenya region) to a high of 2300m in Nyeri (Western slopes).

Organization & Processing
Nowadays, approximately 55 % of all coffee production comes from smallholder farms. The number varies greatly from area to area (Kiambu 14%, Kirinyaga 72%, Machakos 80%). Smallholder farmers are organized in Cooperative Societies, which own the wet mills where farmers deliver ripe cherries. At wet mills (also known as factories) cherries are pulped and fermented for approximately 24 hours. After fermentation, coffee is soaked in tanks full of water and washed in channels. Still at the washing station, coffee is graded in P1 (heaviest parchment), P2 and lights (floaters). Any remaining cherries are removed and processed separately. Coffee is sun-dried on raised tables, a process which can take up to 3 weeks. At night and during the hottest periods, parchment is covered so that drying is gentle and homogenous.

Dry parchment is then delivered to a centralized dry mill. Here, the coffee is processed, screened and marketed at the weekly auctions in Nairobi. Approximately 90% of the entire coffee production is ‘washed’. The remaining 10% is made up of usually unripe cherries. These are spread out on trays to dry in the sun. This process can take up to 5 weeks. The resulting coffee is known as ‘Mbuni’.