This is a single-estate selection from the Mbature Family in Embu on the southeast slopes of Mt. Kenya. It is a dream and an honor to work with this family's coffee, as their production and processing are among the best we've ever seen. In the cup we find a very bright profile of red currants, citrus, and plum.
80% SL28, 20% Ruiru 11
Harvested at peak ripeness. Hand sorted and floated to further remove defects. Depulped on the day of harvest. Mixed to ensure uniform distribution. Dry fermented for 18-20 hours covered from sunlight. Washed and turned in fresh water to remove mucilage. Washing is repeated until the water post-washing is clean. Dry fermented for an additional 24 hours. Washed a final time and floated through channels to sort by density and remove any remaining defects. Dried on raised beds under shade nets until moisture reaches 16%, then moved to upper beds to finish drying to ~10.5%.
The farm Kamavindi was founded by the late John Njiru Mbature during British colonial rule in 1958. Originally, the 20 hectare (~50 acre) farm started with only 100 seedlings because native Africans were only allowed to grow a total of 100 trees by law. The restrictions were lifted in 1961, and John planted an additional 500 trees. Over the years, Kamavindi has acquired more land, and planted a total of 10,000 trees; 7,000 SL28, and 3,000 Ruiru 11. Now, Peter Mbature, his mother Hellen Weveti, and his sister Gladwell Wanjira, all work and manage the farm together. They are working towards replacing the Ruiru 11 trees with SL28 for a full farm of pure SL28. They are also setting up a training center for farmers and coffee buyers to teach classes on processing and farm management.
“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.
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.