Farm: Ngutu Factory
Varietal: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11 & Batian
Processing: Fully washed & dried on African beds
Altitude: 1,600+ metres above sea level
Owner: Raikamba Farmers Cooperative Society
Town / City: Murang'a County
Region: Mathioya District, Gitugi Division
Overall: Stone fruit, plum, grapefruit & bergamot
Ngutu AA - Kenya
Farmers belonging to the Raikamba Farmers Cooperative Society began planting coffee on the eastern slopes of Aberdare ranges and Southern side of Mt Kenya in the 1950s. Today, Ngutu is one of seven wet mills in the larger cooperative, with nearly 4,000 farmers contributing their harvests to the mill to be processed.
In addition to the wide-spread SL28 and SL34, this lot contains some Ruiru 11 and Batian coffee. Ruiru 11 is named for the station at Ruiru, Kenya where it was developed in the '70s and released in 1986. Batian (developed in 2011)is named after the highest peak on Mt. Kenya. These two varietals are slowly becoming more widespread in the region due to their resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust and have both been 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 macademia, maize and dairy for sale at local markets and for their own tables.
Farmers selectively handpick the ripest, reddest cherries, which are then delivered to the 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 for between 12 and 24 hours. After fermentation, the coffee is washed in clean, fresh water to remove all traces of mucilage before being delivered through sorting channels to dry on raised beds.
Some of the issues that farmers face are low production due to loss due to pests and diseases and the relatively high cost of inputs. Many cannot afford to plant disease resistant varieties and face being priced out of the market as their yields diminish. Climate change presents many difficulties, in fact, to farming in the area and one of the challenges for the cooperative is educating their members so as to mitigate its impact.
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.