Gatunyu Kigio Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS) is headquartered in the Gatanga sub-county of Murang’a County. The society was registered on November 20, 1995 and includes the following coop factories located in both Kiambu and Murang’a Counties:
Atlas’ first purchases from Gatunyu Kigio were in 2019, principally from Gakurari Factory. This was one of the first years that a coffee from Murang’a county grabbed our attention on the cupping table, standing apart from some of the best-known Nyeri County factory names. Looking into the source we learned that in 2018 Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters (KCCE) invested a great deal in educating Gatunyu Kigio farmer members and staff about proper farming and picking techniques. This could very well be the reason that Gakurari’s coffees were so extraordinary in our 2019 selections. The full-time staff at each factory washing station are responsible for making sure that the various factories within a given society are following the same protocols for washing and drying the coffee, so it stands to reason that we may see similar results from Muchai, Gichamuri and Wambaru in 2020.
Gakurari’s manager Daniel Mbaradi reports that average fermentation times after depulping are 12-16 hours in shaded concrete tanks without water. After fermentation the coffee is rinsed in concrete channels with no post-fermentation soak. After washing the wet parchment is moved to skin drying tables to be spread in a very thin layer (around 1 inch) and dried for 2 days to remove surface and parchment moisture. Some hand sorting of parchment is done at this stage to remove any obvious defects. After skin drying the coffee is moved to the main drying tables for another 10-12 days of drying in full sun with frequent rotation. On very hot days the coffee is covered by canvas tarps to reduce the drying temperature. These same procedures used by Gakurari’s nearly 500 farmer members are also employed by Gatunyu Kigio’s other factories.
Pretty much every type of fruit imagineable was used to describe our Gakurari arrivals in 2019. Blackberry, raspberry, cranberry, peach, mango, pineapple, lime, green grape, prune, apricot and lemon were all descriptors for the AA, AB and PB lots purchased. They were certainly among our best Kenya coffees of the year and knowing how committed KCCE and Gatunyu Kigio FCS have been to long term business, we’re excited to see what next year might bring to the table.