This exceptional AB lot was produced at the Yara Estate, near the town of Ruiru in Kenya’s Kiambu County. The land surrounding Kiambu is blessed with deep red volcanic soils, rich in organic matter and perfect for coffee farming; meaning the farms 174 hectares can produce 1,400 MT of cherries annually.
Situated to the South of Aberdare ranges and of Mt. Kenya, the Yara Estate was initially established by a British settler in 1902. Originally growing other produce such as maize, beans and lettuce, it wasn’t until 1930, when new owners took over the Estate, that the first coffee crop was planted. From then on, Yara became a coffee-producing farm. The Estate continued to be managed by different settler families until in 1971; Gatatha Farmers Co. Ltd was formed by local residents, who today manage the Estate.
Processing at the Yara Estate adheres to stringent quality-driven methods. All coffee cherries are handpicked and are delivered to the mill the same day, where they undergo meticulous sorting. Factory (as washing stations/wet mills are called in Kenya) employees oversee the process, making sure that any underripe or damaged cherries will not be accepted. After being weighed and logged the cherries are introduced into the hopper to be pulped. Pulping will only begin when a sufficient quantity of cherries has been received.
Once the coffee has been pulped, beans are fully washed using clean river water to remove all traces of mucilage, during which time it will be graded. Next, the coffee will be delivered to dry on the factory’s raised drying beds. The coffee will dry here slowly over 2 to 3 weeks, during which time it will be turned regularly and covered during the hottest part of the day. Finally, the dried coffee is taken to the dry mill for secondary processing. Here, coffee is hulled and graded by size and density, before being rebadged ready for export.
Some of the issues that farmers face are low production due to pests and diseases and the relatively high cost of inputs compared to income from coffee. Many cannot afford to plant disease-resistant varieties and face being priced out of the market as their yields diminish. Yara Estate is one of many farms feeling the strain of these factors. As profit continues to diminish, it is highly likely that Yara will be another fantastic coffee estates lost to the real-estate developers, encroaching from the outskirts of Nairobi.
One of Kenya’s newest but most dangerous threats is that of climate change. Due to the nation’s geographical location in relevance to the equator, Kenya is lucky to receive two crops per year. Traditionally, the main harvest is carried out in October through to December, with the fly crop in June through to August producing minimal quantities. However, recent issues caused by changing climates have meant lower yields during the main harvest, and new quantity being produced in the fly crop. This provides strain to producers, whose yearly income and crop cycles are affected by this change.