Kabingara AB, Kenya Washed
Origin: Kirinyaga County, Kenya
Community: Karithathi Farmers Co-op Society
Varieties: SL 28, SL 34, Baitan, Ruiru 11
Importer: Red Fox Coffee Merchants
FOB/Farmgate: $4.93 USD/lb / 115 shillings/kg cherry
Harvest: Late 2022
Roast: Medium Light
Notes: Cherry, Lime, Floral, Creamy
This bright, fruity Kenya is one we're excited to be adding to our menu! With notes of cherry, lime, and a plush florality, this coffee from Kirinyaga is a different take compared to the big blackcurrant-y Kenyans that we often see. And definitely no tomato-y vibes going on here.
Kabingara Coffee Factory
This lot comes to us from the Kabingara Coffee Factory (established in 1988) in the township of Kamwana, where small producers from Kamwana, Gatumbi, Kithama, and Kathaka villages bring their cherry for processing. The mill is owned and operated by the Karithathi Farmers Cooperative Society, which has over 500 active members.
Instead of one big farm producing all the cherry, the coffee for Kabingara is grown by hundreds of small producers. They have small plots of land referred to as "coffee gardens" that they produce their cherry on, and then bring to the mill for processing.
Coffee varietals are often a topic of conversation amongst industry coffee lovers. With hundreds of different varietals, and more being made, mutated, or even found every year, it can be hard to keep track!
The "SL" varietals are dominant in Kenya, and are what usually bring forward those classic Kenyan flavours. Developed in the 1930s-1940s by the Scott Agricultural Labs in Kenya, they are mutations of Mokka and Bourbon varietals.
Both Baitan and Ruiru 11 are new varietals developed in Kenya to help producers struggling with diseases like coffee leaf rust. They also have the added benefit of producing fruit in just 2 years, as opposed to the standard 4 years we see with most coffee trees.
Our buyer has some lovely information on the coffee processing, and I'll share their words directly.
"Nowhere are coffees as thoroughly cleaned as they are in Kenya. The typical process looks something like this: after depulping, coffee beans are left to ferment. Then, after 24 hours they are washed and left to ferment again, without water, for another 12-24 hours.
The parchment is then washed before being soaked in tanks for another period of roughly 12-18 hours. At this stage, the beans are moved to skin drying beds where they are laid out in thin layers to allow the mass of water weight to fall. This happens over the course of a morning. This entire process is sometime referred to as the 72 hour process. From there the coffee goes to raised drying beds for the next 8 to 12 days.
By the end of this process, the coffee is as clean as a whistle. The work is already done. Not a drop of mucilage will be found on the pristinely white parchment, and no extra flavor is imparted to the beans except by what happened at the farm and in the fermentation tanks."
AB? What does that mean?
You'll almost always see either AA, AB, or PB, beside the mill's name on a bag of Kenyan coffee, and you might wonder " is one better than the other?". Maybe, but they're simply indicators of bean size. Kenya uses screens to sort their processed beans into sizes, and label them appropriately. AA being the largest, and AB being a mix of larger and smaller beans.
PB is designation for Peaberries, where the bean in the cherry is mutated into one single bean as opposed to 2. They're cute and round. Others like T TT, or C are generally damaged or defected, and reserved for commodity coffee, and things like cheap instant coffee.
As I said, we're super excited about having a Kenyan on our menu. They have long been ahead of the curve when it comes to quality control, and we see other producing countries taking pages out of Kenya's book when it comes to processing.
We're hoping to see more Kenyans make their way onto our menu as new fresh crops start landing!