It’s exciting to welcome Rukira’s coffee back into the fold! I haven’t traveled to Kenya since 2020, but I’m delighted to be heading back in early 2023! Each year, from 2015 to 2020, I visited Othaya in Central Kenya and tasted the coffee from every factory which was operating (not all 19 are always producing coffee). And every year like clockwork, Rukira has produced exceptional coffee, either the top quality of every single Othaya factory or near the top.
This lot is from Rukira is from the 2021/22 season, and it is the fourth one with factory manager John Ngari at the helm. I was worried when my favorite manager Daniel Kingori moved over to a new mill in 2019 (Mahiga, whose coffee we bought again this year), but the quality has not faulted, which is extremely heartening!
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.
On a positive note, this year’s harvest showed massive revenue growth for the country of Kenya with a 39% year-over-year increase in coffee earnings. This was mostly due to the high price of coffee on the commodity exchange and consequently via the Kenya Auction system. However, that’s where the good news stops. The cost of the most expensive input next to labour, fertilizer, has increased by 70%, and it sits at a record high. This has caused a projected decline in yields coming into next season. What’s the implication to the specialty coffee sector? We need to continue to push prices higher, and be prepared to pay more for Kenyan coffee.
As I’ve stressed in the past, it remains very important to me that as an industry (i.e., the specialty coffee industry), we continue to push the prices paid for coffee in Kenya up. The goal of 100 Kenya Shillings per kg of coffee cherry as an average price across all grades of coffee is completely attainable, and once again I paid above that for this coffee. We’ll keep doing our part paying better prices, and I’ll also keep applying pressure to other companies to see the value of paying higher prices. 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!
Thank you for your interest in this coffee. With your help (buying it), we can collectively contribute to an improved and evolving coffee sector in Kenya!
As with all our coffee, this green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.