Apricot, blueberry, lemonade
SL28 & SL34
Ichuga is the name of a drying mill operated by the Kiama coffee cooperative.
It is located in the Nyeri region, a town north of Nairobi, the capital, and close to Mount Kenya.
The region’s name means ‘red’ in Masai, and refers to its volcanic terrain, which is very rich in nutrients. The richness of the terrain combined with the altitude at which the coffees are grown, about 1,700 meters above sea level, creates ideal conditions for growing specialty coffees.
Kenya is famous for the quality of its coffees. The Nyeri region has some of the best conditions for growing them.
Coffee farmers and cooperatives in Kenya
This coffee comes from several coffee farmers gathered in a cooperative. Each coffee farmer farms between 0.5 and 2 hectares.
In Kenya most coffee growing and processing is organized through local cooperatives. These cooperatives allow small producers to process their coffee in the best conditions and obtain a higher price than if they sold it to large companies.
In addition, the cooperatives reinvest in the continuous development of coffee farmers and help them improve their knowledge and tools.
Nyeri: an ideal region for growing specialty coffee
The Nyeri region enjoys a cool climate throughout the year due to its altitude. It lies between the eastern base of the Aberdare (Nyandarua) Range and the western slopes of Mount Kenya. This is the highest mountain in the country and the second highest in Africa, after Kilimanjaro.
This entire region has a volcanic terrain, very rich in nutrients, which makes it very suitable for cultivation.
In this region the rain is abundant but seasonal, ideal for growing coffee. The altitude at which it is located is the last link that creates almost perfect conditions to grow Arabica coffee trees.
These conditions make coffee plants mature slowly, which creates a very complex profile in the cup, floral and with higher acidity than other Arabicas.
Washed processing, optimal for this coffee
The processing choice for a green coffee is a decision that coffee growers make in regard to the profile they want to achieve in the cup. Depending on each coffee, one process or another may be more suitable to highlight its qualities.
The processes can be natural, washed and honey, although there are variations of these. For a coffee like this Ichuga AA, the washed process is ideal.
A washed process means that the seed is separated from the cherry pulp before drying. This results in a clean and elegant tasting profile.
The notes of each coffee seed are a reflection of the species and subspecies chosen. This seed is affected by the richness of the land, the climate, the altitude and the know-how of the coffee growers.
Since this coffee has such good conditions, a washed process highlights all its qualities.
The process at the Ichuga plant
The coffee growers carry out a selective collection of the cherries so that only the ripe ones are picked. Once collected, they are taken to washing stations near them.
The cherries are carefully checked upon arrival and those that are not ripe and have defects are discarded for inferior quality coffees.
Once sorted, the ripe cherries are directly pulped and then washed with water from the Gathiururuko stream. This way they are cleaned and any remaining mucilage is removed.
The cherries pass a second inspection to detect any defects. When the cherries are washed and cleaned, they are spread out on raised beds to dry.
This process takes about two weeks. During drying, the cherries are turned regularly to make it homogeneous. During times of high heat and at night they are covered to prevent cracks and/or condensation.
Throughout this process, and until the beans are ready to be exported, the workers continue with the selection to eliminate possible damaged seeds.