Thuti was built in 1958 as the first and founding factory of the Othaya Co-op. The design of Thuti is quite different than all of the other factories of Othaya—it’s much smaller and quite spread-out. Comparing it to the others, one can tell that the Othaya directors initially thought they would put out lower volume than they actually did. A good problem to have, I suppose! Since it’s a smaller factory, it can process less coffee than others. Thus, the outturns tend to be smaller…like this one. Thuti is consistently producing top cup quality, and the only reason I don’t buy from them every year is that the coffee is often over-dried.
Over-dried coffee tends to fade faster, and by the time it arrives in Calgary is can already show diminished sweetness and character as well as an astringent mouth feel. The condition of the coffee is always something I’m analyzing during my trips and it’s an essential criterion to my buying decisions. Even if a coffee cups amazingly well in Kenya, if it’s not dried properly, I don’t buy it. I strongly believe that this disciplined approach results in better coffee in your cup! Thankfully, this lot was dried well, and upon arrival in Calgary it’s tasting vibrant and delicious.
There were big changes at Othaya this season, as many of the managers rotated to manage new factories (aka. washing stations) within Othaya. From what I’ve seen, this kind of manager rotation is unusual in Kenya. I suppose the reason it’s not common is because the factories within a co-op operate with relative autonomy from each other. In fact, each factory will independently select a marketing agent, which in-turn means a different exporter. So, actually the shuffling of managers at Othaya is in indication that the co-op is highly unified, operating as one collaborative organization. I think this is a very good sign, as more and better results can be achieved with this kind of teamwork.
The highlight of my visit to Othaya is always my time with Mr. David K. Wairagu, the mill and quality manager. He’s a consummate host and a living example of someone who is “salt of the earth”. He also possesses a wealth of humble knowledge - as if I needed more reasons to love Othaya!
As with all our coffee, this green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.