We like to work as closely as we can with every coffee producer we buy from. Historically, due to political and logistical issues, Kenya has been one of the most challenging places to have consistent direct partnerships. This year in particular there was a lot of turmoil around how coffee was going to be sold and bought in the entire County of Nyeri that ended up turning very political and made it extremely challenging to buy coffees from the cooperatives. While this made many people opt to not to pursue coffees from their historic producer partners in Nyeri, we sought and looked at every avenue possible to make sure we would continue working with coffees from the Thiriku Cooperative.
Whether all of our conversation between the governor of Nyeri and our exporting and sourcing partners on the ground helped make this coffee possible this year, or if it was just luck and timing, Thiriku was one of only a handful of coffees from Nyeri that functioned through the regular sourcing channels we have used in Kenya for a decade. While there is a lot of work to smooth out the systems for a better partnership for the future, we are certainly proud to offer this coffee proud of what it represents in our determination in sourcing.
Nyeri is a medium-sized town located in central Kenya about a 2-hour drive north from the capital of Kenya, Nairobi. Nyeri is also the name given to the greater region around the town. Just northwest of Nyeri, the altitude rises a few hundred meters, and there you will find the Thiriku Farmers Cooperative.
Most of the producers in Nyeri, and at Thiriku, average only a few hundred coffee trees on their land. At Thiriku in particular, producers also grow a lot of tea in addition to coffee, as the high altitude makes it favorable to grow both. Currently most producers in this area don’t have much if any shade or other canopy trees, and we have yet to see any farms in organic management; but are starting to see some potential glimmers of better sustainability.
While these environmental conditions will continue to be a place for great improvement, we are drawn to this place for the brilliant quality. While sometimes we scratch our head at why a coffee is so good, the quality in Nyeri is not a mystery; bright-red, iron-rich soil and high altitudes combine with great processing techniques to create truly unique coffees. One of the other interesting notes here, is the famous coffee tree in Kenya called SL28 and, to a lesser extent, the SL34. While coffee has been grown in Kenya since the 1800s, the now-legendary SL28 variety was selected by a laboratory in the 1930s as a type that was drought-resistant and showed very good flavors. Today,the SL28 variety has an almost-mythic reputation in the coffee industry for its big flavors and intense acidity, that coffee professionals associate with great Kenyan coffees.
Varieties: SL28, SL34, Ruiru
Elevation: 1,890 meters
Post-Harvest Process: Washed coffee. Eco-pulped (no fermentation or soaking).
Harvest Time: January–March 2015