|Co Operative Farm||Central Ngandori FCS|
|Varietal||SL28, SL34, 5% Ruiru 11|
“Mwiria” is the Kikiyu word for a very large, indigenous tree which used to grow in this area. During Colonial times, Mau Mau freedom fighters would shelter and hide under these trees. The name was given to the factory when it was opened by Jomo Kenyetta – a former freedom fighter and Kenya’s first president post-independence – in the 1960s.
Mwiria is a washing station (or factory, as they are called in Kenya), Embu County in Kenya’s former Eastern Province. Mwiria is one of three washing stations, along with its sisters Kiini and Karuriri, owned by the Central Ngandori Coffee Farmer’s Cooperative Society (FCS). Central Ngandori is made up of over 3,000 active members.
Mwiria receives coffee cherries from around 1,000 local members of the cooperative who grow coffee trees on nearby farms, located between 1,300-1,900 meters above sea level. Farmers deliver ripe red cherry, which is meticulously sorted to remove under-ripe cherries before being processed.
The coffees in this lot are grown in the south-eastern foothills of the extinct volcano, Mt Kenya, in an area defined by its bright red, nutrient-rich, volcanic soil, high elevations and cool climate. The geographical conditions of the area contribute greatly to the outstanding quality of coffees produced here. Most farmers in Embu are smallholder cooperative members – with farm size averaging just one hectare – and grow coffee as a cash crop alongside food crops like banana, maize, macadamia, avocados and vegetables. Tea and dairy are also important sources of income for the producers. Once harvested, coffee cherries are delivered to a centralised factory where it they are processed and dried, ahead of being transported to Nairobi for sale (either directly or through the auction system).
Many of the producers in the region are second-generation landholders, whose parents would have purchased and planted the land. Most coffee farms in Embu were planted in the 1950s, after agricultural reform allowed for small Kenyan farmers to produce cash crops on their family farms (instead of only on large, British owned estates). At that time, it was recommended to plant SL-28 and SL-34, which remain the predominant varieties found in the area and make up over 50% of this lot. Both cultivars have Bourbon and Moka heritage and are named after the laboratory that promoted their wider distribution in Kenya during the early 20th Century: Scott Laboratories. This lot also contains 5% of the hybrid variety Ruiru 11, which was cultivated as a more robust variety with better resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust. Ruiru 11 has been backcrossed with SL-28 and SL-34 to ensure a high cup quality.
This is the first year that Central Ngandori FCS have employed Sucastainability as their marketing agent. Sucastainability takes an on-the-ground approach to improving productivity and quality for Mwiria’s farmer members through training and education programs. Beyond this, Sucastainability connects Central Ngandori to specialty-focused buyers (like MCM) that will pay high premiums for exceptional quality.