Carrier Roasting Co.
Kenya Kamwangi AA
Whole bean coffee
Coop: Ngariama Farmers Cooperative Society
Altitude: 1100 - 1800 masl
Process: Washed, dried on raised beds
Varieties: Ruiru 11, SL 28, Batian
Tasting notes: Mandarin, mango, blackberry
Kamwangi is a coffee washing station (called factories in Kenya) owned by the Ngariama Farmers Cooperative Society. Like most coffee in Kenya, Kamwangi was grown by numerous smallholding growers who sell ripe coffee cherries to the factory for shared processing. At the factory the coffee is fermented and washed impeccably clean. Our importer Red Fox Coffee Merchants describes the typical Kenya process best:
Nowhere are coffees as thoroughly cleaned as they are in Kenya. The typical process looks something like this: after depulping, coffee beans are left to ferment. Then, after 24 hours they are washed and left to ferment again, without water, for another 12-24 hours. The parchment is then washed before being soaked in tanks for another period of roughly 12-18 hours. At this stage, the beans are moved to skin drying beds where they are laid out in thin layers to allow the mass of water weight to fall. This happens over the course of a morning. This entire process is sometimes referred to as the 72 hour process. From there the coffee goes to raised drying beds for the next 8 to 12 days. By the end of this process, the coffee is as clean as a whistle. The work is already done. Not a drop of mucilage will be found on the pristinely white parchment, and no extra flavor is imparted to the beans except by what happened at the farm and in the fermentation tanks.
In the context of Kenyan coffee, "AA" refers to the size of the beans. Coffee in Kenya is graded by physical quality and screen size. AA, AB, and PB are all grades that denote clean specialty coffee passing the highest standards of physical quality, but with different requirements for grain size. To be specific, AA is the largest of the three (screen 17/18), AB is one size smaller (15/16), and PB stands for “peaberry”, which are diminutive, totally rounded seeds that make up a small percentage of all coffee as a natural mutation. In our experience all three of these grades have equally high potential for cup quality, with no reliable correlation between bean size and quality. We label our offerings with the grade only to enhance traceability and draw a distinction when we offer two different lots from the same factory. With Kamwangi AA we are tasting a very sweet and juicy citrus and tropical fruit profile with notes of mandarin orange, mango, and blackberry.
This is our sixth year sourcing coffee from Kenya through Red Fox Coffee Merchants, and our first year buying from Kamwangi. We wrote a forward contract with Red Fox to buy 25 bags from Kenya, split between five different lots. We scored the pre-ship sample of this coffee an 88 and purchased 5 60kg bags for $5.85/lb EXW, on a day when the Coffee Commodity price was $2.05/lb.
Photo credit: Red Fox Coffee Merchants