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Kafferäven is in Kenya, what's he doing ?

Per from Kafferäven is currently in Kenya on a 3 month long trip. Through the wonders of modern technology we managed to grab him to find out more.

 

ToppKaffe: Why have you gone to Kenya now?

Per:
Both for private and professional reasons. We are a family business and we find it important that all members are involved in what we do. We wanted to stay a longer period at origin and choose  Kenya.

Kenya is currently transforming slightly and we feel a need to understand what is happening and how we can better partner up with producers, millers and exporters in this origin. It is a learning and networking trip.



ToppKaffe: What is different about Kenyan coffee, why is it different?

Per:

Every origin is different. Kenya may be unique with is fertile rich soil, optimal altitude and temperature for coffee growing. The difference is noticeable in the taste. And even when producers try to plant the Kenyan coffee varieties elsewhere, the same taste and flavors are never found outside this country.

However Kenya is, just like every other origin, experiencing unusual weather patterns with irregular rainfall and temperatures that disturb the normal, stable and repetitive conditions that is needed for coffee to be a stable crop. So what has been optimal in the past might change in the future, and this will affect how Kenyan coffee taste. 

 

ToppKaffe: What changes have you seen as you have visited over the years, is this changing the coffee ?

Per:

Kenya has a special system of selling coffee through an auction. Once a week throughout the harvest season, market agents sell (on behalf of farmers) and exporters buy (on behalf of importers) on coffee on the auction.

Over the last years I have seen more and more coffee is traded direct outside the auction, due to a bigger demand from buyers to get a closer relation to producers. Although most coffee in Kenya comes from cooperatives, I have seen more and more farms starting milling their own coffee as single farms instead of blending their crop with the other coop members.

What this will mean in terms of quality and consistency is yet to be seen.

 

 

ToppKaffe: You work with farmers using Gatomboya washing station as part of a cooperative. What is a cooperative and how do they work ?

Per:

A cooperative is a union of farmers that collectively own one of several washing stations, called factories. Farmers will pick their coffee and bring cherries to the factory, and get paid for the crop. The factory handle the pulping, fermentation and drying.

When coffee is sold farmers will get second payment, depending on market price and production costs or future investments for the factory. Coops are democratic and have a board with elected farmers for a limited time period.

 

 

ToppKaffe: Can you select specific lots from small groups of farmers ?

Per:
After this trip yes. We can not or see no reason to select lots from a small group within a coop, but we can select specific lots from a big or small coop or from a single farmer with their own pulping and drying. 
ToppKaffe: You also work with another washing station Gichathaini. It produces 98% SL28. What is SL28, and how is coffee made using it distinctive. 
Per:
SL28 is a variety created specifically for the Kenyan conditions. It was created in the 1950s. I think and many other varieties have been created after that, since conditions change over time. SL28 is attractive from a buyers perspective due to its expected taste profile, but its limiting for a farmer due to low resistance to leaf rust and insect damage.

 

ToppKaffe: Have you made any exciting discoveries in the time since you have been in Kenya that you can tell us about ?

Per:
Many. I have seen farmers moving away from coops to take control over their own product. For me, this is a sign of farmers gaining a better understanding of the market and what they have to do to make a difference for themself. 
I also see a lot of development in the west. Currently, most coffee in Kenya is produced in the Central district, but in the past West also had a big production. These days, it's mostly tea and flowers for export in this region but I see producers picking up coffee production again. I expect us to see different coffees and other cup profiles from the west, and this is exciting.
 
Toppkaffe: How much Kenyan coffee do you normally source, when will see see the harvest hit the shelves ?
Per:
We usually buy 4-5 different lots that are 200-800kg each. When logistics work as expected the new harvest arrive in early June, but delays can occur so we never know for sure.
ToppKaffe: I was born in Aberdare Wales, and you are close to the Kenyan Aberdare National Park, what's the best wildlife you have seen, and what do you hope to see?
Per:
Prior to this trip I have never done a safari in Kenya, and we are yet to see too many wild animals. I did like the fact that we could see antelopes, zebras and giraffes even outside national parks when traveling towards them. It made me realize this is actual wildlife and not animals kept in an area for show.
Thanks very much to Per for taking time out of what we know is a busy schedule. We are really looking forward to tasting the results of all the hard work. If you want to try some great Kenyan coffee click here