Farm: Barichu Farmers Cooperative Society
Varietal: SL28, SL34 and some Ruiru 11
Processing: Fully washed & dried on African beds
Altitude: Mill: 1,700 metres above sea level
Owner: 821 small holder farmers deliver to Karindundu Wet Mill
Town / City: Karatina
Region: Nyeri County, Central Kenya
Karindundu AB - Kenya
This AB lot was produced by numerous smallholder farmers, all of whom are members of the Barichu Farmers Cooperative Society (BFCS) delivering to the Karindundu Coffee Factory, located near the town of Karatina in Kenya’s famous Nyeari County.
The Barichu Coop was formed originally in 1987 as a member of the giant Mathira collective. However, they broke away in 1996 to better serve the farmers in Nyeri region of Kenya. The coop now boasts more than 4,500 members and manages four ‘factories’ (as wet mills are known). These four wet mills, Karindundu, Gatomboya, Karatina and Gaturiri, are located near the town of Karatina in the southeastern stretches of Nyeri, along the southern slopes of Mt. Kenya. . Barichu, today, is among the largest of the Nyeri cooperative societies. Farmers have, on average, around 300 coffee trees which are grown as part of a ‘coffee garden’ system interspersed with food crops such as maize and beans, fruit trees and shade trees. The main harvest season is usually from October to January.
Coffee varieties grown by members are SL 28, SL 34 (99%) and a very small amount (about 1%) of Ruiru. Ruiru 11 is named for the station at Ruiru, Kenya where it was developed in the '70s and released in 1986. Although composing very little of cooperative member’s total production, Ruiru is slowly becoming more widespread in the region due to its resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust. It has also been backcrossed with SL28 and SL34 to ensure high cup quality.
During harvest season, farmers selectively handpick the ripest, reddest cherries, which are then delivered directly to the cooperative’s wet mill on the same day as picking. Cherries are stringently hand sorted prior to pulping, with damaged and under ripe cherries being separated out from the red, ripe lots. The factory has a four disc pulper installed to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. After pulping, the coffee is double fermented with periods of washing and soaking in between. After soaking, coffee is spread out on pre-drying tables to remove excess liquid before being moved to raised drying tables. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and total production volume undergoing processing. Drying can take from 7 to 15 days in total. While drying, the parchment is repeatedly moved and sorted to remove any damaged or discoloured beans and is covered during the hottest part of the day to maintain even temperatures.
In addition to managing Karindundu and its other factories, the Barichu FCS provides credit facilities to its members so that they are able to pay for school fees, farm inputs and medical fees. Furthermore, the cooperative has undertaken actions to increase yields and improve their member’s livelihoods. In partnership with Coffee Management Services (CMS), their field service agent, the long term goal is to increase coffee production through farmer training, ready access to inputs, Good Agricultural Practice seminars, and providing the most current printed materials on sustainable farming. By paying the producers some of the highest returns for their coffee our objective can be achieved, Mercanta and our exporting partner strongly believe in establishing a transparent, trust based relationship with smallholder farmers, helping to support sustained industry growth throughout the country, and continuing to elevate the standards of quality coffee produced in Kenya.
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. PB (denoting Peaberry) is the smallest screen size.