This year we worked with Mark Barany of Bend Coffee to get access to our fresh crop Kenyan Coffees. Mark has been visiting Dorman’s cupping lab in Nairobi, Kenya at the beginning of each calendar year for the past 8 years to purchase some of the best coffees Kenya has to offer. Dorman’s is the premier company to work with for importing top-tier Kenyan coffees.
Kenyan coffees are often grown by small producers at high elevations where it is then picked and transported to wet mills around various growing regions of the country, primarily from Nyeri, but also Murang’a county. It is at these mills where coffee is first sampled, evaluated, processed and combined with other micro-lots to be sold to international markets. These wet mills, called Factories in Kenya, act as both wet mills and cooperatives, searching for the highest bidders for green coffee to offer farmers high premiums and access to the necessary materials to continue producing high quality products. It is at these factories that coffee is graded for quality and size. In Kenya, the grading system for coffees link size and quality with AA being the largest beans size without defects and often assumed highest quality. The next grade, AB, includes ‘A’ sized beans with some smaller beans mixed in and can cup just as well if not better.
Once these coffees have been processed, marketing agents visit mills to assess the coffee available for purchase. The folks at Dorman’s work tirelessly to cup through all the coffee produced around Kenya to analyze the market and evaluate overall quality for the year’s harvest. Not only do they evaluate every coffee by taste, but they take meticulous readings of moisture content, water activity and other statistics that play a role in our purchasing decisions.
Mark’s continued relationship with Dorman’s has secured us access to the top tier coffees. This sustained relationship and our history of purchasing certain lots year after year allows us to request our favorite coffees time and time again. Once Mark arrives in Nairobi he begins to cup blindly through hundreds of coffees, choosing his favorites and then analyzes water activity to ensure the green coffee will maintain its quality during shipping and storage. The majority of Kenyan Coffees that Kuma purchases are from the Nyeri region of Kenya or from the county of Murang’a just to the south. The rich volcanic soil of Mount Kenya and high elevations produce coffees with the traditional Kenyan profile of rich and jammy fruit notes. Many of the coffees grown here are processed at the Central Kenya Coffee Mill.
The most recent growing season produced remarkably exceptional coffee. An unusually long rainy season that extended into late February made drying green coffee and storing post-processed coffee challenging. Although we were able to secure some of our continued favorites, and some new gems, diligent attention was paid to the moisture content of the green beans. Although a cup may have tasted brilliant, if the water activity is too high the quality will degrade more quickly. This must be carefully considered as it can take a few months for green coffee to be packaged and shipped to the United States. This year we purchased 6 different Kenyan lots and we look forward to sharing them with you.
We are starting with this delicious Gatuya!