We haven’t bought coffee from Karuthi since 2017, the last time I felt it elevated to the top of Othaya’s quality offerings, so I’m excited to see their improved quality this season. The flavor profile of this outturn of Karuthi tends more toward citrus like grapefruit with tropical fruit undertones, and it’s less savory than Mahiga (although I do love the savory of Mahiga). It’s no accident that Karuthi’s quality has improved because I can trace a direct link between the factory manager in charge and the quality of the season. For the 2022/23 harvest, the manager was James Migwi. I know James well because he used to manage the Mahiga factory. He was really delivering on quality this season. Thank you, James!
Built in the ‘80s between the Rwarai and Chinga rivers, Karuthi is one of the newer factories in Othaya, and its production volume is generally lower than most of the other factories. This lower cherry quality makes quality control a bit easier during the peak of the harvest.
Back to Othaya Co-op in general, their superpower is that they are vertically integrated. So, while some factories are changing their marketing agent or milling partner from season to season, Othaya has its own mill, and they founded a cooperative-owned marketing agency to market and export their coffee. This coffee is called Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters (KCCE for short).
What I love about KCCE is that they operate with a fully transparent pricing structure. They take a fixed 2% fee from the total price paid by buyers. This is completely contrary to other marketing agents and exporters, who take varying and non-transparent amounts from the sale price of each coffee.
On trips to Othaya, I always look forward to visiting my friend David Wairagu, manager of the cupping lab at the dry mill. I was somewhat saddened this year to say farewell to my friend and long-term commercial manager of KCCE, Phyllis Ngangam, who retired this year. That said, I was very impressed with the new CEO, Dr. Jane Kathuku, and the new commercial manager, Samuel Njeru, so I know that KCCE is in good hands!
As with all of our coffees, the green coffee was frozen immediately upon arrival in Calgary, to preserve all its goodness for you to enjoy!