Kenyan coffees are full of flavour! Here's the lowdown on coffee from this celebrated region and from the Ndimaini wet mill.
Coffee growing came late to Kenya, and from different directions, with the French bringing their French Mission Bourbon, from today’s Reunion Island, and the British bringing varieties from Mocha in Yemen some 300 years after the initial cultivation of the tree elsewhere. Kenyans, in any independent sense, were only involved after the 1930s; they were previously enslaved on their own coffee plantations. After their independence from Britain in the sixties, landowners and smallholders grew from the reallocation of colonial and government land to the people. Their high grade coffee is produced mostly by these smallholders and their cooperatives in the highlands covering the north of the country.
At the foot of Mt.Kenya, the farms of Gakuyu Farmers' Co-operative produce these bright, complex coffees. The factory, or washing station, is near Karatina, 120km north of Nairobi in the Highlands where the vivid red volcanic soils surrounding Mt.Kenya, an extinct volcano, provide prime conditions for the trees to grow—both too in altitude and rainfall; they define its renowned acidity and brightness. Farmers often grow other flowers or nuts, mostly Macadamias or beautiful spider flowers, not only for their yield and to support income, but also to provide ample shade for the coffee trees. Gakuyu hosts above 1100 local smallholders from surrounding villages and supports their growers through paying advances on crop for schooling and equipment and hosts a training centre for the local farmers.
The varieties grown in this mircolot differ due to various qualities of each tree, but they all have their roots in the Bourbon variety brought by the French. The SL varieties are named after the Scott Agricultural Laboratories, now National Agricultural Laboratories (NARL), where in the 1920s the British began a research centre to maximise the economic output, or yield, of each variety. There are over 40 SL varieties, with the two we have here, SL-28 and SL-34, being among the most renowned on the Kenyan map.
Nyeri’s coffees tend to have more fructose sugar, a juicy mouthfeel, and strong tart acids. The Batian also has its roots as a hybrid of SL varieties and is known for its height and resistance to disease and rust. The Ruiru 11, also a hybrid, is popular due to its shorter first harvest—two instead of three years after planting—and was genetically developed due to its resistance to Coffee Berry disease, which wiped out 50% of Kenya’s coffee production in the late sixties!
These four varieties form a complex web of growth and are characteristically cousins through the ongoing research conducted on them. When you see an AA or an AB next to your Kenyan coffee this only refers to the bean size, not the quality!
- Area:Nyeri County
- Farm:Various smallholder farmers
- Profile:Forest Fruits, Lemon Curd, Cola
- Quantity:120g, 250g, 1kg
- Variety:SL-28, SL-34, Batian, Ruiru 11
In 2022 Dear Green sourced, Ndimaini AB, coffee produced by various smallholders, processed through the Ndimaini wet mill and imported by Cafe Imports. Dear Green are proud to be transparent about the source and the supply chain of all coffees listed. In 2022 we were unable to obtain the FOB price for this raw green coffee. Dear Green purchased 300kg of this delicious coffee which scores 86 SCA specialty points! You can read more about Dear Green's sourcing and ethics here.
All photographs were taken by us on our trip to Kenya in 2017.