Dedan Kimathi AA
The two traditional sources of traceable coffees in Kenya, whether through auction or direct sale, are cooperatively managed wet mills (often referred to as “factories”) and privately owned estates.
While this distinction certainly holds true in most cases, this particular coffee, from a chartered public university research farm in Nyeri County, is a bit of an outlier.
The Dedan Kimathi University of Technology farm (or DeKUT), currently occupies 650 acres of land dedicated to hands-on agricultural training and horticultural research studies for its students, with coffee occupying the largest part of the farm’s focus. In addition to multiple certificate and degree programs offered by the university in areas related to coffee processing technology, quality management, cupping, and food science, the university farm also cultivates and provides coffee seedlings to area farmers at subsidized prices. The history of coffee farming on the land occupied by the university dates back to the 1920’s when Kenya was still under British colonial rule. It’s fitting then that the DeKUT’s namesake references a storied figure in Kenya’s struggle for independence from Britain during the 20th century. Born in Nyeri in 1920, Dedan Kimathi was a key military leader in the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (also known as the Mau Mau) which staged acts of rebellion against British colonial rule throughout much of the 1950’s. While Kimathi would ultimately be captured and executed by the British colonial government in 1957, his leadership in cooperation with the Mau Mau uprising is recognized for its contribution to Kenya’s eventual independence from British colonial rule in 1963. After prolonged outcry by participants, relatives, and descendants of the Mau Mau to be recognized by Kenya’s post-colonial administrations, a colonial-era ban on the group was finally lifted in 2002, culminating with the unveiling of a statue dedicated to Dedan Kimathi in downtown Nairobi in 2007.
Located just 6 km north of the town of Nyeri, the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology sells lots like this one from its farm’s demonstration plots to continue to subsidize their agricultural education and research programs. Composed primarily of SL-28, SL-34, Ruiru 11, and Batian varieties, harvests from DeKUT are pulped before undergoing approximately 16 to 24 hours of dry fermentation. Once thoroughly washed of any remaining mucilage after fermentation, the newly processed “parchment” is transferred to raised beds where drying is completed in 14 - 20 days. This “AA” separation indicates a larger bean size, or ‘screen size’ (18+), among the various size grades common to Kenya coffee (among them, AA, AB, and PB). From early cuppings of this coffee, we’ve found a delicious and sweet Nyeri profile with flavors of pear, vanilla, blackcurrant and cola.