This is our first Kenyan release of the season! This coffee comes from the rapidly emerging region of Kirinyaga. In the cup, we find a bright, relatively classic profile of blackberry honey and lime, with a delicate coffee blossom-like florality.
SL34, SL28, Batian, Ruiru 11
Hand picked at peak ripeness. Floated to further remove defects and depulped on the day of harvest. Density graded and separated. Shade fermented for 16-24 hours. Washed, and again graded by density into AA and AB. Soaked under clean water from the Gatomboya Stream for 16-18 hours. Dried on raised beds until the moisture reaches 10.4%.
Kenya has been an increasingly difficult origin to work in. Not only are the cup profiles changing, but we are still dealing with a lack of transparency and traceability within the cooperatives while prices continue to spike. However, Kenyan coffees are among our favorites each year, and we are continuing to work alongside our partners towards more traceable, transparent, and sustainable coffees in the future. The amount of farm inputs required in Kenya to combat coffee related diseases is higher than anywhere we have seen as coffee buyers—a major reason why these coffees are so expensive. Soils have been stripped for years, thus the use of fertilizers and chemicals are now, unfortunately, necessary. We have also seen a dynamic change in flavor profiles, as we mentioned last year, and this year was no different. For reasons we have not been able to discern, it is increasingly difficult to find 'classic Kenyan' profiles. We postulate that it potentially has something to do with varieties, shorter fermentation times and soil health.
“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.