This micro-lot coffee was produced by smallholder farmers belonging to the Thirikwa Farmers Cooperative Society, delivering to the Gakuyuini wet mill (locally known as a ‘factory’), located near the towns of Kerugoya and Kianyaha in Central Kenya. Gakuyuini is the Cooperative’s sole wet mill, and is located at 1,600 metres above sea level. Small holder farmers delivering to the mill hail from the surrounding villages of Githiru, Gituba and Mukure, and their small farms (most of which are farmed as mixed use, with a blend of coffee trees – on average 200 – 250 trees – and food crops) dot the southern slopes of Mt Kenya at 1,500 – 1,900 metres above sea level. Coffee farming in this region goes back to the 1950s, but many members of the Cooperative rely on additional economic and agricultural activities for their livelihoods. In addition to producing coffee, ost farmers in the area also produce macadamia, maize and dairy for sale at local markets and for their own tables
Cup profile: Blackberry and ripe plum with velvety mouthfeel and slight sweetness. Medium acidity with a full body.
OVERVIEW ON THE GAKUYU-INI FACTORY
Gakuyui-ini Coffee Factory is located in Central Province, Kirinyaga District in Ngariama location of Gichugu Division near Kianyaga town at Kirinyaga County.
This factory was built in 1982 and rests on a 2 acres piece of land. It serves Githiru, Gituba and Mukure Villages. This factory is affiliated to Thirikwa Farmers’ Co-operative Society Ltd and its membership currently stands at 1620 which 1000 are active farmers while 620 are inactive farmers. Coincidentally the factory houses the society head office.
Gakuyui-ini Coffee factory has a factory manager with 10 permanent members of staff and numerous seasonal workers whore are hired on a need basis. The number of seasonal workers varies from year to year depending on the crop harvested. During the peak season the factory employs about 30 while on off-peak at most 2 seasonal workers are retained.
Some of the operations undertaken at the factory include weighing coffee, selection, grading of coffee, soaking, washing, drying, sorting, paying farmers and addressing farmers’ complaints.
SOIL AND CLIMATE
Gakuyu-ini factory lies in a region which is about 1567m above the sea level and with the following co-ordinates (00 27.619S, 037 23.840E). The area experiences Moderate bimodal rainfall of about 1300mm annually with temperatures ranging between 13-26 degrees Celsius.
The long rains fall between March-May while the short rains come between October and December. The region has red fertile alluvial soils which play a big role in the excellent cup quality of coffee from this area.
The catchment area experiences a biennial production cycle with the early harvest being from April to June and the late second season being from October to December.
Farmers in this region grow mainly SL28 and SL34 cultivars of Arabica coffee which has high production of unrivalled quality.
Cherry production has risen over time due to improved price of coffee and favorable climate for coffee production. The farmers here are also active in coffee farming because it’s the mainly major cash crop in this area. The management is encouraging its members to cultivate more coffee so as to benefit from the good prices attained.
The affiliate members of the factory carry out all agronomic activities associated with coffee production i.e. they source planting material from the Coffee Research Station and plant it according to the stipulated guidelines.
Fieldwork carried out involves weeding, pruning, spraying, and application of fertilizer, mulching and technical advice. Technical advice is offered through farmer training programs and field visits/days offered by ministry of agriculture.
Compliance to the agreed guidelines is checked and supervised by the field committee which goes round the farms. They usually check that coffee is not inter-grown with other crops such as maize and Beans, though they do allow intercropping with Macadamia.
After harvesting all the coffee is delivered to the factory on the same day and undergoes wet processing. Water is pumped from River Kiri to the reservoir tanks for pulping and recirculation.
After pulping the coffee is fermented overnight, washed, soaked and spread on the drying tables to sun dry. The parchment is then frequently turned on the drying tables, sorted and stored awaiting delivery to the millers. To ensure that the processing is carried out efficiently the factory has invested in a pulper, a recirculation system and about 10 conditioning bins.
The surrounding area is densely populated with little or no existence of wild animals. The environment is mostly made up of indigenous trees which are well protected by the community.
Currently the factory does not offer any incentives to farmers and workers due to financial constraints.