Ichuga Nyeri, Kenya
Not only do the team at Farrer’s have a long coffee roasting heritage, but they are also renowned for being totally dedicated to bring you the very best ethically and sustainably sourced coffees from around the globe.
Farrer’s is pleased to introduce a new and intoxicating coffee from Ichuga Station, part of the Kiama Farmer Cooperative Society, based near the town of Karatina in the Nyeri region, in central Kenya.
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The Nyeri region is one Kenya's most famous coffee growing regions whose name comes from the Masaai word ‘nyiro,’ which means red, reflecting the deep red, nutrient rich volcanic soil found across the region. The name was modified by foreigners who settled and established tea and coffee plantations adapted by white settler farmers to Nyeri.
Kenya’s coffee industry has gained and maintained an impressive reputation, despite the fact that the crop is a relatively new addition to the farming landscape in 1893 when French missionaries attempted to grow Bourbon coffee from Brazil. Kenyans themselves under British colonial rule weren’t allowed to grow certain crops, of which coffee was one until after the Mau Mau war (1952-1960), and even then, the growing and consumption of coffee was heavily regulated.
Things are very different today, there are more than 600,000 smallholders farming fewer than 5 acres makes up 99% of Kenya’s coffee farming population, and the country upholds its reputation for high quality and attention to detail. These farms grow coffee 1700-1900m above sea level and harvest only two crops, one from May-July and another in October – December.
Ichuga Nyeri is a medium bodied fully washed coffee made up of three varieties SL28, SL 34 and Ruiru 11.
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The SL varieties were discovered in the early 1900s by Scott’s Laboratories which gives the varieties their SL abbreviation. They are widely considered to be revolutionary for the Kenyan coffee industry. They were developed in the face of disease, frequent drought and generally poor crop yields.
SL28 is predominantly the most successful of these varieties is because the variety can be left for long periods of time, even decades unattended to and still be easily revived and start producing. This means that there is still generational flow of coffee production over the years.
SL34 is a similarly tall tree, with an exceptional cup profile but it is highly susceptible to coffee berry disease. SL34 was reputedly selected from a single tree, which became known as ‘French Mission’ located on the Loresho Estate in Kabete, Kenya.
After a coffee berry disease broke out in 1967 an F1 hybrid which became known as Ruiru 11, was developed using a number of varieties for their specific properties, including SL28 and SL34 for their tasting scores, Sudan Rume for its resistance to coffee berry disease and Catimor to provide extra resistance to coffee berry disease and tolerance to leaf rust.
Now Kenya’s coffee market is made up of a high proportion of Ruiru 11. It is hugely popular because it is inexpensive and easy to care for.
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Ichuga station is one of the farms operating in the Nyeri region, one of five owned and operated by Kiama Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS), near the town of Karatina. FCS supports its farmer members by offering pre-harvest financing, allowing them to plan and invest in the upcoming crop, support farmers with training and provide assistance with school fees for their children. They also buy plants in bulk and distribute them to members at a lower cost than otherwise possible.
Each member on average farms a small holding of around 130 hectares, where they handpick only the ripest cherries, before delivering them to the station, where they are sorted to remove any under-ripe or over-ripe cherries or any foreign objects. Then the cherries are processed, a disc pulping machine removes the skin and pulp. The coffee is then graded by density into three grades by the pulper.
Once sorted, ripe, red cherry is added straight to the hopper and pulped. Coffee is fermented and then washed in clean water to remove any remaining mucilage. Wet parchment is sorted and any damaged beans that remain are removed. Then, parchment is moved to raised beds to finish drying. Here, it is turned regularly to ensure even drying and is covered up during the hottest part of the day and at night to prevent cracking and condensation forming. Drying time is usually around 14 days, depending on the climatic conditions at the time of harvest. Once dry, the parchment is sent to Kahawa Bora Millers, a mill specialising in small batch, highly traceable coffee, for final processing.
Ichuga Nyeri coffee delivers some typical Kenyan tasting notes like blackcurrant, but there are also hints of dark chocolate and some more unusual notes such as lemongrass and grapefruit.
Farm: Ichuga Station
Varietal: Ruiru 11, SL28, SL34
Process: Fully Washed
Profile: Notes of Lemongrass, blackcurrant, raspberry, grapefruit and honey
Cup Score: 89.75