- Region: Nyeri, Central Kenya
- Process: Washed
- Elevation: 1800 - 2200 meters
- Variety: SL28, SL34, Riuru 11
Certifications: Rainforest Alliance
- Flavor: Orange, molasses, cardamom
This coffee comes from Nyeri Hill Estate in the central highlands of Kenya. The farm has been owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri since 1890. It was one of the first coffee plantations established in Eastern Africa, with its first planting in 1914. The focus of Nyeri Hill Estate is producing high quality coffee which well represents Kenyan coffee, while also promoting sustainability of the local land and stability of the local community.
The estate grows three varieties of coffee: SL28, SL34, and Riuru 11. The flowering for the main crop occurs between March and May, with the main harvest period occurring between October and January. At harvest, only ripe red cherries are picked from the tree. They are immediately transported to the estate’s local wet mill, which was constructed in 1934 and is still in operation. The cherries are depulped and fermented to remove the mucilage. The coffee is then graded.
Historically, especially in East African growing nations, coffee was graded by the size of the beans, as larger beans were thought to be of a higher quality. The coffee is passed through sieves of various sizes. The sizes include T, the smallest beans; C, smaller beans; AB; AA; PB, peaberry; and E, elephant beans. That system has largely phased out with the development of more rigorous cupping protocols, and a greater understanding of coffee chemistry. However, that size system is still highly prevalent in Kenya, a country well-known for its high quality coffee of a very distinct flavor profile. In the specialty coffee industry, consumers can typically find coffees between the AB and E grades. This specific crop is an AB.
After grading, the coffee is moved to raised beds where it is dried in the sun. Raised beds ensure an even-drying of the coffee, as air is able to pass over all sides of the coffee. Even-drying results in a more balanced acidity and a cleaner cup. While the coffee is drying, defective beans are removed by hand.
Revenue from the coffee estate is used to facilitate efforts by the Archdiocese towards local land and community sustainability. Nyeri Hill Estate’s land sustainability efforts include shade-tree planting and reforestation, recycling of organic coffee matter, encouragement of pest predators to reduce chemical usage, and planting of Bermuda Blue Grass to lessen erosion of soil. The Estate’s community sustainability efforts include direct employment for over 300 people in the local area; and the establishment of Nyeri High School, Mathari Mission Hospital, and Kamwenja Teachers College.
This is the second year we have offered Nyeri Hill Estate’s coffee. This crop is very balanced and well-represents the distinct flavor of Kenyan coffees. It has a prominent orange-like acidity and syrupy molasses-like body, with an interesting flavor reminiscent of cardamom.