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About Kenya Mbiri Peaberry
Mbiri Farm is a family run farm of the Gibson Coffee Estate, and sits at 1550 meters in the foothills of Mount Kenya. The coffee trees are SL28 varietal and are grown naturally and sustainably under shade trees. Gibson has been producing coffee since the 1960s.
This coffee is a Peaberry grade meaning it is a cylindrical, pearl shaped bean. Only one peaberry grows inside the coffee cherry rather than two facing flat beans. As they oval they turn better in drum roasters and produce an extremely even roast. However, in air roasters, peaberries can take longer to become airborne as their shape makes them wind resistant.
The Mbiri town is located in the Central Province, 68 miles NorthEast of Nairobi, the countrys capital city. The climate of Central Province is generally cooler than that of the rest of Kenya, due to the region's higher altitude. Rainfall is fairly reliable, falling in two seasons, one from early March to May (the long rains) and a second during October and November (the short rains). Central Province is a key producer of coffee for the country, and also the location of the majority of Kenyas dairy industry. The province is inhabited almost exclusively by the Kikuyu speaking community who are part of the Eastern Bantu.
During Kenya's colonization by the British, much of the province was regarded as part of the White Highlands', for the exclusive use of the European community. Therefore, it saw political activity from the local communities who felt that they had an ancestral right to the land. This tension culminated in the 1950s with the Mau Mau rebellion; it saw the region placed under a state of emergency and the arrest of many prominent political leaders.
- Country: Kenya
- Farm: Mbiri Farm
- Producer: Mathew Mugo
- Region: Kirinyaga County
- Municipality: Mbiri
- Altitude: 1,550 meters
- Varietal: SL28
- Grade: Peaberry
- Process: Fully Washed
- Harvest Season: Central Kenya: May - July (early crop) | October - December (late crop)
Cup Characteristics: Aromas of caramel, and maple syrup. Flavors of fig, black currant, and vanilla. A uniform cup with a heavy body and mouthfeel.
Roasting Notes: Kenya can be roasted successfully to various roast levels due to the bean density and high elevations where grown. Light roasting, midway between 1st and 2nd crack will produce a more acidic, delicate and flavorful cup; taken to 2nd crack the body becomes considerably more emphasized and the acidity plays a lesser role. But Kenya AA can also be roasted beyond 2nd crack to dark roasted, caramelized levels because there is considerable inherit natural sugar, acidity and bean hardness. Peaberries make for especially even roasts in drum style roasters because they roll; but this can be a problem in some hot air roaster because it's not as easy for them to be airborne.
Kenya coffee facts:
Population (2006): 34.7 million People
Coffee Production: 880,000 bags (60 kg)
Country bag capacity: 132 pounds - 60 kg
Domestic Consumption: 50,000 bags
Coffee Export: 850,000 bags
Cultivated Area: 127,000 Hectares (314,000 acres)
Harvests: 2 per year
- Main crop October to December
- Fly crop June to August
Arabica Introduced: Introduced from Ethiopia via Yemen at the end of the 19th century, by the Fathers of the Holy Spirit Congregation. Bourbon varietal introduced from Reunion in 1901 by missionaries. Kent varietal introduced early 20th century from the Indies.
Specialty Coffee Regions: North and northeast of Nairobi; high plateaus surrounding Mt. Kenya. Soil is volcanic.
Grades: AA Plus, AA, peaberry
Farms: About 350,000 farms with an average of 0.2 hectares (about 1/2 acre). 8 major preparation cooperatives.
Botanical Varietals: Bourbon, Kent, various hybrids (SL-28, SL-34, Riuru 11), Blue Mountain (from Jamaica).
One of the great coffee producers. Coffee accounts for 27% of the country's exports and half of their agricultural output. Shading, by banana trees, is a common practice.
Kenya has a weekly auction system that has been in place for many years. It does not provide transparency of revenues to growers and the system is said to be flawed by a complex web of middlemen. There are allegations of corruption as well. The government is working to develop a more direct model whereby growers can offer their coffees more directly to foreign buyers thus reaping a better price.