Red grape, grilled pineapple, maple syrup & brown sugar.
|Joseph Mugo Karaba
Kabumbu is a small coffee estate in Kiambu County, owned and managed by Joseph Mugo Karaba. Joseph inherited the farm from his father, who first planted coffee in the 1960s. He and his family live on the estate which includes five acres of coffee trees and a small wet mill – or factory, as they are known in Kenya – where Joseph independently processes and prepares his coffees.
Kabumbu sits across 1,500-1,750 meters above sea level in the foothills of the extinct volcano, Mt Kenya. The area is defined by its bright red, nutrient-rich, volcanic soil and cool climate, both of which contribute to the outstanding quality of the coffees produced on this farm. Joseph recently made the decision to plant his farm with 100% Batian, a new hybrid variety that has been bred specifically for high yields and disease resistance, coupled with the potential for excellent cup quality.
Small-scale independent farmers like Joseph, who process coffees themselves, enjoy certain advantages over those who only sell whole coffee cherries to local Farmer Cooperative Societies. Perhaps most importantly, they are in a position to directly control quality from harvesting and picking, through to processing and drying. The resulting coffee reflects the incredible amount of hard work and attention to managing every single variable that influences the quality and helps the producer be in full control, ensuring their coffee reaches its full potential.
Choosing to process the coffee independently is not easy—or cheap. It is more costly to manage the post-harvest handling of coffees on a small scale without the efficiencies of centralized processing, and it involves more risk. However, the probability of producing exceptional quality, consistently, is far higher when a farmer is able to take full ownership over their own coffee production, and this higher quality should enable the producer to secure a much higher price for their coffee.
HOW THIS COFFEE WAS PROCESSED
The coffee was carefully handpicked by Joseph and his team and sorted to ensure only the ripe cherries were processed. It was pulped using a disc pulping machine, which removes the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that protects the green coffee bean.
The coffee was then dry fermented for 16–24 hours, to break down the sugars and remove the mucilage (sticky fruit covering) from the outside of the beans. Whilst the coffee was fermenting it was checked and when ready it was rinsed and removed from the tanks.
The parchment covered coffee was then washed in water channels with fresh water and sent to soaking tanks where it sat underwater for a further 24 hours. This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity.
After soaking, the coffee was dried on raised drying tables (also known as African beds) and turned constantly to ensure they are dried evenly until they were at 11–12% humidity.
The coffee was then rested in parchment, and when ready for export, dry milled at Kahara Bowa mill in Thika, around a one hour drive from Nairobi.