We don’t buy a lot of AB Kenyan coffee for one reason: it doesn’t have the popularity AA has. Which is sad because bean size really isn’t everything, just ask our favorite Ethiopian coffees! When it comes to Kenyan coffee, the grade is purely a reflection of average bean size, not the quality of sorting or processing. And if you don’t believe us, give this coffee a try! It’s from the same producer (Othaya Farmer’s Coop Society) as our AA and PB Kenyan offerings right now and they don’t put their reputation on the line for mediocre coffees. In fact, this coffee is part of their “Red Cherry” program which prides itself on meticulous processing and sorting for only the best lots. Read more about them in the “Farm Bio” tab!
We’ve currently got 3 Kenyan coffees from Othaya and while it’s a very close race, this one has edged out the other two as our favorite. It’s a similar cup to the AA, just less…intense. A little less winey and a little more sweet and bright as well as a touch more balanced. They Peaberry from Othaya is a bit further in that direction so for us, so this AB strikes the perfect balance! Look for notes of juicy ripe orange, cherry, a touch of jasmine and rich dark chocolate with a gentle herbaceous undertone and a quick, dry finish.
Reminder! This coffee is raw, you must roast it before brewing
Arrival Date: September 23rd, 2022. US Arrival: September, 2022, packed in GrainPro bags
Acidity & Brightness: Fairly bright and sweet
Balance & Finish: Balanced with a dry, floral finish
Body & Texture: Full bodied, smooth and silky
Flavors: Orange, cherry, jasmine and dark chocolate
Grade: AB, grown at 1740 masl
Certifications: Fair trade
Processing: Fully washed and dried in raised beds
Grower: 824 smallholder farmers organized around the Ichamama Factory
Region: Othaya, Nyeri County, Kenya
Varieties: SL28, SL34 and Ruiru 11
Recommended Roast Range: City+ to Full City (Light-medium to medium)
We like this coffee best at Full Medium but you can go a little lighter or darker depending on the flavors you want to accent. Lighter roasts will have more lime and orange acidity as well as more emphasis on florality. Slightly darker roasts will bring out a bit more dark chocolate as well some cherry and a touch more body.
Royal Coffee - "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. Many believe the best coffees in Kenya, often the world, are crafted in the wet, high elevation communities with mineral-rich soil that reside just along the lower edge of these forests. Nyeri is perhaps the most well-known of these central counties. Kenya’s coffee sector 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.
Othaya Farmers Cooperative Society, the umbrella organization that includes Ichamama Factory, is one of Kenya’s larger societies, with 19 different factories and more than 14,000 farmer members across the southern Nyeri region. Othaya Farmer Cooperative Society is one of key member societies of the Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters (KCCE) organization. KCCE is an historic organization of almost 4,000 individual cooperatives. The group was formed in 2009, with the express goal of managing marketing and exporting operations cooperatively, as opposed to contractually with third parties. The economics of smallholder systems are consistently difficult everywhere in the world, and in Kenya in particular the number of individual margins sliced off an export price before payment reaches the actual farms is many, leaving only a small percentage to support coffee growth itself. And most often this arrives many months after harvest. KCCE, by managing more of the value chain itself, can capture a greater margin on behalf of the farms.
This particular coffee is a cut above the rest, in part due to meticulous sorting and precision processing. The essence of the Red Cherry Program for Royal is to encourage excellence and to repay in kind. The additional time and labor poured into ripe coffee selection, the attention to detail during washing and fermentation, and the care with which the coffee is dried and sorted are all rewarded with a premium that returns to the local cooperative that does the work. Cherry designated for the Red Cherry Program is rigorously sorting for ripeness and consistency upon delivery, and kept separate throughout the entire processing timeline. After acceptance Ichamama depulps and ferments for 27-48 hours depending on ambient conditions (the changing mountain climate, as for many processors, tends to dictate fermentation temperatures, and processing staff are required to check fermentation progress every three hours). After fermentation, the parchment is rinsed and the water replenished, and the clean parchment soaks for an additional 12 hours, after which it is sorted by density and brought to the tables to dry, typically for two to three weeks. After drying is complete the coffee is stored on site and eventually delivered to the Othaya dry mill for grading and a final density sort. The established milling and sorting by grade, or bean size, is a longstanding tradition and positions Kenya coffees well for roasters, by tightly controlling the physical preparation and creating a diversity of profiles from a single processing batch.”