Farm: Gathaithi Coffee Growers Cooperative Society
Varietal: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11
Processing: Fully washed
Altitude: 1,450 to 1,760 metres above sea level
Owner: Smallholder members of
Town / City: Nyeri
Region: Nyeri County, Central Kenya
Gathaithi AA - Kenya
This coffee was produced by numerous smallholder farmers, all of whom are members of the Gathaithi Coffee Growers Cooperative Society (also known as Gathaita), located near Nyeri in Central Kenya between the slopes of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare range.
The cooperative is managed by a democratically elected board of members, each of whom serve as a representative of a community where the cooperative has members. Additionally, the Cooperative provides employment for permanent members of staff, headed by the Secretary Manager, who oversees the day-to-day running of the Coop under the board’s supervision. The cooperative, in this way, is run by the farmers themselves and represents and processes cherry for some 1,250 active smallholder farmers with a total estimated hectare of 156 and an annual production of over 102,000 kilos.
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 only 5% of the current lot, Ruiru is slowly becoming more widespread in the region due to its resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust. It has also backcrossed with SL28 and SL34 to ensure high cup quality.
Coffee farming in this region goes back to the 1950s, but many members of the Cooperative rely on additional economic and agricultural activities for their livelihoods. In addition to producing coffee, most farmers in the area also produce maize and banana for sale at local markets and for their own tables.
Farmers selectively handpick the ripest, reddest cherries, which are then delivered to the cooperative’s wet mill on the same day. Cherries are hand sorted prior to pulping, with damaged and under ripe cherries being separated out from the red, ripe lots. After pulping the coffee is fermented. After fermentation, the coffee is washed in clean, fresh water to remove all traces of mucilage before being delivered to dry on raised beds where it is repeatedly moved and sorted to remove any damaged or discoloured beans.
Farmer members of the cooperative are able to access pre-financing for school fees, farm inputs and emergency needs through Mercanta’s partner at origin. The cooperative also receives assistance for farmer training and input access, with a long term goal to increase coffee production in terms of volume with focus on quality and sustainability. Good Agricultural Practice seminars are conducted year round.
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.