Baragwi Farmers Cooperative - Kirinyaga, Kenya - Peaberry
Awesome Single Origin Espresso, Brew or Pour Over
Region: Kirinyaga County, Kenya
Varietal: Peaberries - SL28, SL31, Ruiru, Batian
Growers: Baragwi Farmers Cooperative Society
Elevation: 1600 - 1800 m asl
Process: Fully Washed and Dried on Raised Beds
Butter, Cranberry Cream, Crème Fraiche, Pecan, Raspberry. Very Sweet. Dense, Opulent Body
Mt. Kenya, at the helm of Kenya’s Central Province, is the second tallest peak on the continent of Africa and a commanding natural presence. The mountain itself is a single point inside a vast and surreal thicket of ascending national forest and active game protection communities. The central counties of Kenya extend from the center of the national park, like six irregular pie slices, with their points meeting at the peak of the mountain. It is along the lower edge of these forests where, in wet, high elevation communities with mineral-rich soil many believe the best coffees in Kenya, often the world, are crafted.
Kirinyaga county is one of the smallest and yet best known of these central counties, next to its neighbor, Nyeri. Year after year Kirinyaga coffees are beloved for their ripe fruit-forward profiles, many reminiscent of berry jam, mandarin, and lemongrass.
Kenya’s coffee is dominated by a cooperative system of production, whose members vote on representation, marketing and milling contracts for their coffee, as well as profit allocation. Baragwi Farmers Cooperative Society oversees the operations of all 12 member cooperatives with a combined total of 16,000 farmer members. The group, like many cooperative societies country-wide, has a farmer-elected board with members from each sub-location.
Kenya is of course known for some of the most meticulous at-scale processing that can be found anywhere in the world. Bright white parchment, nearly perfectly sorted by density and bulk conditioned at high elevations is the norm, and a matter of pride, even for generations of Kenyan processing managers who prefer drinking Kenya’s tea (abundantly farmed in nearby Muranga and Kiambu counties) to its coffee. Ample ground and river water supply in Kirinyaga has historically allowed factories to wash, and wash, and soak, and wash their coffees again entirely with fresh, cold river water. Conservation is creeping into the discussion in certain places--understandably in the drier areas where water, due to climate change, cannot be as taken for granted—but for the most part Kenya continues to thoroughly wash and soak its coffees according to tradition.
The varieties which comprise this coffee were all developed by laboratories and research stations in Kenya in the 20th and 21st centuries. SL28 and SL34 are popular selections in Kenya, made by Scott Agricultural Laboratories in the 1930s. SL28 is known for its high sensory qualities, though it is lower yielding and less disease resistant than intended. SL34 was selected from a single tree in Kabete, and is known for its high productivity. Ruirui 11 is a disease resistant variety developed after the coffee berry epidemic of 1968. It has high yield and good disease resistance, but requires pollination by hand for mass propagation, leading to difficulty in producing enough seed to meet farmer demand. Batian is another variety related to Ruirui 11, SL28, SL34, and several others, and is known for its high stature and resistance to disease.