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Kenya Gathanji


We look forward to new Kenyas every year, and our first of 2018 is Gathanji, from smallholder farmers in Kiambu County. The farmers who grow this coffee are members of the New Gatanga Farmers Cooperative Society, and deliver their coffee to the cooperative's Gathanji factory (washing station). It's juicy, it's delicious and complex, it's perfect for summer weather.

What makes Kenyan coffee unique? As is the case everywhere, altitude, soil, good picking and good farming practices all contribute to the best coffees. But Kenya also has variety and processing to set it apart. The Kenyan government worked with Scott Labs in the mid-20th century to select (NOT genetically-modify) varieties that are particularly well-suited to drought conditions and capable of producting high cup quality. The two best-known, SL28 and SL34 are particularly known for their high end brightness and red berry or currant flavors.

Additionally, Kenyan factories (washing stations) separate their coffee by screen size, and wash their coffees in a unique manner. The factories double-wash the coffees, and soak the coffees again before drying, which contribute to extremely clean flavors and the development of amino acids for complexity in the cup.

Many Kenyan coffees are purchased by internationally-owned exporting firms through the country's auction system. This system does help coffees attain high prices at the auction table, but the numerous layers and foreign hands in the process often mean that little goes back to the farmers themselves. We purchased Gathanji through Royal Coffee in Oakland. Royal works outside of the auction system, and partners with Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters, an export firm owned by the Kenyan farmers who contribute the coffee. This helps ensure that the farmers themselves receive a greater portion of the coffee's final price.

Gathanji is a dynamic and sweet cup, with all of the fruity complexity we love in great washed Kenyas. We taste red currant, bright green grape, rich and subtly spicy molasses, and tropical fruit. To paraphrase Run the Jewels, the answer is Gathanji, the question is "What's poppin'?"

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