Kenyan arrivals are always highly anticipated and resoundingly celebrated, and 2019′s arrivals show us again why this is the case. This coffee – an “AB” lot from a washing station located in Ichamara – makes a cracking espresso, resplendid with that perfect combo of peanut butter and jelly – delivering sweetness and fullness in a knee-bucklingly delectable fashion. Would you like to know more? Does anything else matter? We’re not sure, but probably. You’d best read on to prove you’re balanced in your hedonism.
Ichamara is the name of both a town and a washing station (factory) located on the borders of the famed Central Nyeri district in Kenya (it’s in Mukurwe-ini to be exact). The Ichamara factory is one of five belonging to the New Gikaru Coffee Growers Cooperative Society, a majority woman run Coop. We purchased from another of the Gikaru factories in 2017 (Mutwewathi) and found that factory to be superbly managed and very much feel the same applies at Ichamara after tasting this lot. Ichamara is farther to the south than most of the coffees from Nyeri county, grown between the eastern Aberdare mountain range and western slopes of Mt. Kenya.
Coffee is processed here in a similar way to much of Kenya – methodically and with great care. The cherries are produced by small family holdings and delivered picking by picking to the washing station.
Upon arrival at Ichamara, coffee is pulped using a four-disc pulper, before being washed, soaked, and moved to raised drying beds for 14 to 21 days (dependant on weather). Water is recirculated where possible to minimise wastewater, and any wastewater is then disposed of responsibly. We’ve often said that quality of production in Kenya is practically institutionalised, and we mean this is a good way. Cherry ripeness is carefully monitored, fermentation and washing is done very carefully. There’s a soak phase which is thought to be great to homogenise humidity throughout the seed, and then parchment is graded using channels by density, so that high paying international buyers like ourselves can purchase the very heaviest and most flavourful and consistent seeds. What follows is careful drying and then another stage of quality assurance sadly not undertaken as much as it used to be (due to increased theft risk) called parchment conditioning, where the dried parchment is allowed to sit in large protected and shaded bins to encourage humidity homogeneity.
In the cup this is classic Kenya, but with a bit of a twist. We picked this coffee for espresso because of how soft and rounded it was. It has all the hallmarks of a Kenyan coffee in its bright fruit, jammy berries, and clean acid, but this coffee is also so beautifully rounded, like warm honey. If you’ve steered clear of Kenyan espresso in the past, make an exception for this one.
We were the highest bidder at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange auction for this special lot from Ichamara, during February 2019. The New Gikaru Farmer’s Coop Society is calculated to have received USD $2.75 per pound of finished green coffee from this purchase.
Whole beans only.
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