This selection from the Karindundu washing station continues this season’s exploration of Kenya. In the cup we find hibiscus, lemonade, and red currant.
SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, Batian
Hand picked at peak ripeness. Hand sorted to ensure only the very best cherries are selected. Depulped. Fermented overnight. Floated through channels to remove remaining defects. Soaked and cleaned in fresh water. Dried on raised beds for 15 days while continuously turned and hand sorted.
This washing station rests in what is now the most famous coffee producing region in Kenya: Nyeri. Nyeri is on the southwestern slope of Mount Kenya, and consistently produces some of the highest quality coffees in the world. Karindundu is a smaller washing station, to which only about 400 farmers deliver their cherry. Kenya has its own very unique challenges as we try and move towards sustainability within the coffee industry. While we are attempting to move more and more towards working with individual farmers and estates in Kenya, washing stations and smallholding farmers are still how the vast majority of coffee is produced in Kenya.
“SL” is in reference to single tree selections made by Scott Agricultural Laboratories in 1935-1939. 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. SL28 is 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.