A crisp and citrus forward single farm lot from Kenya, grown by Alex Mwangi near the town of Mukurweini
A fruity & acidic coffee
Producer: Alex Mwangi
Altitude: 1800 masl
Harvest: December 2021
Optimal brew: Filter 4-30 days | Espresso 10-60 days.
RRP for 250g: 144 kr.
RRP for 1 kg: 540 kr.
About the Coffee
Alex Mwangi produces coffee on a small estate in the region of Nyeri, not far from the town of Mukurweini. Alex previously worked in a solar panel manufacturing facility, but left 15 years ago to pursue a career in coffee production. He initially joined a local association, but was always looking to process his own coffee. After only 2 years, he took the plunge and built his own small wet mill on the estate, and has continued to look for new ways to differentiate himself, and gradually improve the coffee production industry in Kenya. It was this drive that led Alex to work with Belco’s ‘Hands On Coffee’ project, to create coffee in a less impactful way.
Due to the dominance of the washed process in Kenya, and the many floating, sorting and soaking steps they often use, the water usage here is incredibly high, much higher per kilo of coffee produced than any other country we buy coffee from. Kenyan cooperatives also often have affiliations with large fertiliser companies, giving members subsidised and direct access to chemical fertilisers and pesticides, meaning these are often used to a very high degree in the Kenyan coffee lands. The system of grading, where large bean size ‘AA’ lots fetch the highest prices, also lead many producers to fertilise very aggressively in order to grow larger fruit, and therefore increase their income. All of this leads to a great deal of contaminated waste water from processing, and runoff of fertiliser from farmlands. If not dealt with carefully, this can be catastrophic for vital Kenyan groundwater supplies. This is part of what the Hands On Coffee project aims to change. They often work with individual producers rather than on a cooperative level, meaning less influence from large fertiliser companies, and more traceability. Furthermore, they are championing the natural process as a method of increasing quality, creating a point of difference in a washed coffee dominated market, which in theory leads to higher prices.
They have implemented much more careful drying processes both for washed and natural lots, with the project financing expanded drying beds, plastic protection from rains and high sun, and moisture meters for consistency. The importance of ventilation and temperature control during drying was emphasised using this new equipment, leading to more consistently and carefully dried coffees. This is a huge factor in processing natural coffees, alongside a constant need for sorting and harvesting consistently ripe fruit.