Kenya Magomano 12 oz

Process: Washed
Altitude: 1700 meters
Varietal: SL28, SL34
Tasting Notes: Blackberry, Mango, Cherry
 

Magomano is Kikuyu for ‘gathering together’, and it is said that Kikuyu elders would meet in the village, gathering from all areas of the surrounding region to discuss the issues affecting their society. They met under the Mugumo Tree (fig tree) which acted as a sort of shrine. Such trees still exist at Magomano Factory today.

Magomano is one of two factories operated by the Muhara Farmers Cooperative Society, which has over 800 members and is located 5 km from Gatundu, Kiambu County. Members are all smallholders, with approximately one hectare or less of land each. Coffee is usually grown on only a small part of the farm as farmers grow other crops to support their families. Processing at the Magomano wet mill adheres to stringent quality driven methods. All coffee cherries are picked and delivered to the mill on the same day, where they will undergo meticulous sorting. Factory employees oversee the process and any underripe or damaged cherries will not be accepted by the ‘Cherry Clerk’ - one of the most important harvest-period staff, who keeps meticulous records of how much coffee each producer delivers on any given day (and thus how much payment is due once the coffee has sold). Any rejected coffee will be returned to the producer to take home again, and the farmer will need to find a place to dry it (often on a tarp) to be delivered only at the end of the season as low quality ‘Mbuni’ - natural process coffee that earns a very low price. Thus, farmer members are incentivized to only pick and deliver the ripest cherry that they can. Once the cherry has been delivered, weighed and logged, the coffee cherry is added to the hopper to be pulped. Once pulped, the coffee is delivered to one of the factory’s fermentation tanks, where it will ferment for 12-48 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. They use water from the Thiririka River for pulping and washing. Once fermentation has completed it is fully washed to remove all traces of mucilage, during which time it will be graded, and then sent first to the ‘skin tables’ (with larger holes) and then to the raised drying beds to slowly dry over the course of one to two weeks with regular raking for even drying.

Kiambu, being very close to Nairobi, has a long history with regards to coffee production however, recent history and urbanization pose many issues for the future of coffee production in the region. Some of the issues are the same as farmers across the country face, such as low production due to pests and diseases and the relatively high cost of inputs compared to income from coffee production. Many cannot afford to plant disease resistant varietals and face being priced out of the market as their yields diminish.

The most pressing threat is arguably that of urbanization and industrialization. Kiambu County abuts directly up to the northern boundaries of Nairobi, encompassing wealthy suburbs and industrial areas alike in its southern edges. As the expansion of the Thika Superhighway and other infrastructure projects advance, it becomes easier to set up businesses (and homes) on the outskirts of Nairobi, deeply invading Kiambu’s borders. The highway construction has already led to an explosion of the real estate market with several big projects under development.

One thing is certain: continued investment in quality coffee such as this lot is an action that will continue to give coffee in the region a ‘leg up’, hopefully preserving coffee in the area for many generations to come.

Whole Bean