We have been loving coffees from the county of Kiambu for a few year now, and this washing station is no different. In the cup we find a deep traditional Kenyan profile of blackcurrant and hibiscus atop an effervescent acidity.
SL28, SL34, Batian, Ruiru 11
Hand sorted to ensure only the very best cherries are selected. Pulped. Fermented overnight. Floated through channels to sort by density and remove any remaining defects. Soaked and cleaned in fresh water. Dried on raised beds for 15 days while continuously being turned and hand sorted.
This washing station is located just north of the capital city of Nairobi, and south of Mt. Kenya. Because of its proximity to Nairobi land in the area is becoming extremely expensive, making it much more challenging to produce coffee in this region. In spite of this, the region has produced our favorite Kenyan profiles over the last few years, and finding a single estate in this region to begin working with will be a top priority of ours next season.
“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.
Ruiru 11 is a Catimor hybrid that owes its existence to a coffee berry disease epidemic in 1968 that lead to the loss of 50% of Kenya’s production. The crisis sparked action. In the 1970s, the coffee research station at Ruiru—which gives Ruiru 11 its name—began an intensive breeding program of varieties that are immune to coffee berry disease, ultimately leading to the release of Ruiru 11 in 1985. Batian is resistant to both leaf rust and coffee berry disease. It 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.
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.