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Gathaithi AA

with notes of
  • Redcurrant
  • Tropical Fruit
  • Brown Sugar

This Gathaithi AA offering adds to our current list of new Kenya releases featuring coffees purchased from cooperatively managed wet mills (often referred to as “factories”). Gathaithi Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS) is located right in the center of Kenya’s central highlands, between the Mt. Kenya and Aberdare mountain ranges in the famed coffee growing county of Nyeri.

Gathaithi FCS, like many currently existing FCS in Nyeri, was born of a trend in Kenya’s coffee sector in the 90’s that saw the breakup of large umbrella ‘Coffee Famer’s Society’s’ such as one called Tetu, which Gathaithi was formerly part of. At one time, the massive Tetu Coffee Farmer’s Society located in Nyeri was made up of some 28 different factories with an estimated 18,000 members. By contrast, the breakaway Gathaithi Farmer Cooperative society today is made up of around 1500 members. The common stance among members that were calling for the dissolution of these larger groups at the time was that the relatively few people at the top were making decisions that ultimately did not benefit the broader membership. Whether those decisions were being made knowingly by bad actors, or as a result of administrative and financial mismanagement, is still a matter of debate. The break-up of larger cooperative societies, and the introduction of trade liberalization in 2006 that made it possible for farmers and cooperatives to sell directly to buyers (as opposed to exclusively through the auction system), are changes that were largely motivated by pressure from farmers and cooperatives in search of a more equitable return for their crop. While no strategy has proven to be a silver bullet, the ability for farmers and cooperatives to seek greater returns for their harvests has generally improved with these measures.

Coffee cherries delivered by local farmers to Gathaithi are pulped and fermented overnight in water before being washed in channels where further sorting takes place. Coffees are finally dried on raised beds for 7-15 days before being prepared for export. The cup character of this selection stands out a bit among our most recent releases of Kenyan coffees from Nyeri with its deep brown sugar sweetness and tart cranberry-like acidity. As it cools, tropical fruits emerge in the cup followed by an elegant rhubarb and floral aftertaste reminiscent of hibiscus tea.