Christmas Coffee: Kenya Karani


Region: Gichugu Division, Kirinyaga County
Altitude: 1,550 – 1,600
Variety: SL 34 & SL 28
Processing: washed, sun-dried on raised beds
Tasting Notes: peach, redcurrant, almond

There is not enough space on our label for the tasting notes to fully do this complex coffee justice. Sweet cherry, strawberry and peachy juiciness are punctuated by vibrant redcurrant and rhubarb. There are strong almond notes and it’s so overall sweet that the aroma edges into marzipan territory. This lot of Karani is a beautiful example of Kenyan specialty coffee at its finest.

Karani Factory—in Kenya washing stations are called factories—is associated with the Kabare Farmers’ Cooperative Society. The members of the co-operative are smallholder farmers who grow coffee along with other crops to sell. They grow potatoes, bananas, mangoes and avocados in addition to livestock including cows for milk and chickens for eggs and meat. Collectively, the 600 members delivering to the Factory grow coffee on 134,000 trees, producing around 455 metric tonnes of cherries each year.

Situated in the foothills of Mount Kenya, Kirinyaga County is roughly 112 km from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. Snow-capped Mount Kenya is no longer an active volcano, but the ashes that landed from previous eruptions have created healthy deep red volcanic soil high in nutrients and organic matter. This soil is ideal for coffee production and gives the trees the necessary resources to allocate energy to high-quality coffee production.

The careful picking and processing of this coffee is the key to its high quality. Cherries are picked in the morning and taken to the washing station where they’re washed with water from the River Ragati. The skin and outer fruit is removed from the beans which are then fermented in tanks overnight so that the final layer of mucilage can be washed away the next morning. The washed beans are then carefully dried to the ideal moisture content on raised beds. Too much rain or too much sun can have a negative impact, so the beans are tended carefully at this stage. Along the entire process from picking to drying, unripe or damaged beans are constantly being removed, and the remaining coffee is carefully graded for quality.

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