Rukira is a wet mill (called a Factory in Kenya), and it is one of the newer mills of Othaya, built in 1979 (I know, this place has some history!). Presently, there are 19 factories in the co-op, although not all of them operated again in the 2018 season. Thankfully, the crop in 2018 was much higher in volume than the previous year—2017 was abysmally low. It was nevertheless still on the low side compared to years past, and I chose to pay the same prices (per lb) as last year, even though the crop was higher and typically this would justify lower prices. It’s very important to me that as an industry (i.e. the speciality coffee industry), we continue to push up the prices paid for coffee in Kenya. The goal of 100 Kenya Shillings per kg of coffee cherry as an average price across all grades of coffee is completely obtainable, and once again I paid above that. I do admit that I harbour a bit of resentment that we’re year-in, year-out pushing up the average price while other so-called sustainable coffee companies are paying prices that are simply too low to allow farmers to thrive. We’ll keep doing our part paying better prices, and I’ll also keep applying pressure to these other companies to see the value of paying higher prices as well. The ability to pay higher will also be driven by the customer side as well, as roasters and cafes will have to charge marginally more for Kenya coffees, but in my view they’re well worth it!
As with last year, Rukira was once again a clear standout against the other coffee of Othaya. This season, I went to visit the Rukira factory again, and I had a great conversation with Daniel Kingori, the mill manager. We talked at length about what sets Rukira apart and contributes to its quality. This is a question I like to ask all mill managers, and Daniel’s answer was one of the most comprehensive I’ve heard. He mentioned the importance of sorting both in the cherry stage and the wet parchment to remove green, under-ripe coffee, and the importance of only taking the parchment from the soaking tank when it’s sunny. We also strolled through the small piece of land they use as a demonstration plot for coffee farmers submitting to Rukira. Here Daniel talked about the practices they encourage farmers to undertake to up the bar of quality. It’s Daniel’s 6th year as manager, and it’s clear he’s very passionate about what he does and that he deeply cares about quality and the farmers Rukira serves. It’s very inspiring to see!
This coffee was frozen immediately upon arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.