Kenya Thunguri

Kenya Thunguri

in Tasting notes + farm info

Kenya Thunguri PB

Origin: Kenya

Region: Kirinyaga

Altitude: 1600 meters above sea level

Washing Station: Kibirigwi Cooperative Society

Growers: 1095 small holder growers

Variety: SL28, SL34, K7, Ruiru 11

Process:  Washed

Tasting Notes: Sweet and full with notes of peach iced tea and florals.

The Thunguri Coffee Factory is a coffee washing station located in the Kirinyaga County in Kenya’s Central Province, 115 km from Nairobi and 5 km from Karatina town along the Nairobi – Nyeri highway.

Thunguri was established in 1962 and rests on eight acres of nutrient rich land in the fertile foothills of Mt. Kenya and Aberdare ranges, at 1,600m above sea level. It has 1,095 active contributing farmers who are members of the Kibirgwi Cooperative Society and live in the neighbouring villages of Kiamwe, Nguguini and Kiahiti.

The area experiences 1,300mm of rainfall per annum, and has a biannual production cycle. The fly (mitica) harvest is from April–June and the late second season is from October–December. This lot comes from the main harvest later in the year. A mild climate, with average temperatures ranging from 13-24 degrees Celsius, along with high altitudes, means that the coffee cherries grown in the region are able to mature slowly, allowing time for a high concentration of the sugars to develop in the fruit. The main varieties of coffee grown are SL-28, 34, K7 — which accounts to 99% of the coffee produced — and Ruiru 11, which accounts to the other 1%.

Thunguri receives assistance from Coffee Management Services (CMS), who are engaged by Dormans (our export partner) to work directly with cooperatives and members to help them improve their productivity and quality, through training and education programs. CMS have planted demonstration plots at Thunguri to reinforce best practices, and provide training for the factory manager on an annual basis. In addition, CMS also offers interest free advances before the season, to help sustain their farms and contribute to their school fee payments.

The objective of the program is to establish ongoing, transparent and trust-based relationships with the smallholder farmers, and to support sustained industry growth and drive continued improvements in quality, which ultimately translates to greater premiums for these coffees and their producers.

Thunguri adheres to stringent quality driven practices at the washing station to ensure the very best coffee is produced. All the coffee is hand-picked and delivered on the same day to the washing station, where it undergoes meticulous sorting. This is done by hand and overseen by the ‘cherry clerk’ who ensures any unripe and damaged cherries are removed. The ripe coffee cherries are then weighed and logged against the producer’s name.

The coffee is then placed in a large tank of water, and any floaters are removed (immature cherries are lighter and therefore float, making them easy to remove). The remaining coffee cherries are then pulped to remove the skin, and the coffee is then fermented overnight to break down the sugars and remove the mucilage (sticky fruit covering) from the outside of the bean.

The parchment covered coffee is then washed with fresh water, sent through water channels for grading by weight (the sinking coffee is considered the sweetest, and any lighter density or lower grade coffee beans are removed). They are then sent to soaking tanks where they sit under water for a further 24 hours. This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity. The coffee is then spread out on the raised drying tables and turned constantly to ensure it dries evenly in the sun. Time on the drying tables depends on weather, ambient temperature and processing volumes, and can take from 7 to 15 days in total.

Wastewater from the processing is managed through the use of soaking pits. The water used for processing the cherry will spend time in the pits to ensure that the nutrient-rich water created during de-pulping will not be returned to the nearby water source without proper treatment. This additional step will cut down the risk of contamination: after adequate time for reabsorption the water will be recirculated.

This lot from Thunguri is  a peaberry. Peaberries are relatively rare—around 5% of total harvest.  This type of ‘pea-shaped’ coffee bean occurs when a single bean grows inside the cherry instead of two. Despite being small, these beans are big in flavour! We fell in love with this coffee as soon as we cupped it, and it reminded us why Kenya’s best coffees are among the most celebrated in the world.