Gatomboya washing station is infamous for historically producing some of the best coffees out of Kenya, and it is a pleasure to finally have the opportunity to work with their coffee. In the cup we find round, ripe plum with a tropical fruit complexity and a bright Kenyan acidity.
SL28, SL32, Ruiru 11, Batian
Hand picked at peak ripeness. Floated to further remove defects and depulped on the day of harvest. Density graded and separated. Dry fermented for 16-24 hours. Washed, and again density graded into AA and AB. Soaked under clean water from the Gatomboya Stream for 8-14 hours. Dried on raised beds until moisture content reaches 10.4%.
Gatomboya has a long history in the specialty coffee industry, and has garnered the attention of coffee professionals and consumers alike by producing some of the best coffees in Nyeri. Gatomboya, along with almost all of the washing stations in Kenya, is suffering from the excessive use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers; stripping nutrients from the soil as well as devastating local biodiversity. Our goal in Kenya is to find a single producer or washing station open to moving away from chemical inputs and revitalizing the soils—ideally bringing back the more traditional Kenyan cup profiles that have begun to disappear.
“SL” is in reference to single tree selections made by Scott Agricultural Laboratories in 1935-1939. SL34 has a Typica-like genetic background selected from a single tree on the Loresho Estate in Kabete, Kenya. SL28 is of the Bourbon genetic group, and was selected for its drought resistance as well as its extremely high cup quality. SL28 is one of the most well-known and well-regarded varieties in Africa. It has consequently spread from Kenya to other parts of Africa as well as Central and South America. Both varieties are non-hybrid, and very susceptible to disease.
Batian was created via single-tree selections from fifth filial (F5) generations from the male parent of some Ruiru 11 progenies. Batian is a composite variety, mixing three different pure line varieties. The varieties involved in the original crosses are: SL28, SL34, Rume Sudan, N39, K7, SL4 and the Timor Hybrid.
Ruiru 11 is a composite variety made of many varieties. Catimor and a multi-cross selection involving K7, SL28, N39, Rume Sudan, among others (male parent). Ruiru 11 owes its existence to a coffee berry disease (CBD) epidemic in 1968 that lead to the loss of 50% of Kenya’s production. The crisis sparked action. In the 1970’s, the coffee research station at Ruiru, which gives Ruiru 11 its name, began an intensive breeding program for varieties that were immune to CBD. This led to the development of Ruiru 11, which was released in 1985.
The cost of getting a coffee from cherry to beverage varies enormously depending on its place of origin and the location of its consumption. The inclusion of price transparency is a starting point to inform broader conversation around the true costs of production and the sustainability of specialty coffee as a whole.