This specialty high elevation coffee is grown by small-holder farmers of the Mbaranga factory in Meru County, Kenya. Member plots are located on the southern slopes of the Nyambene Hills where perennial streams collect an abundant rainfall through deeply forested mountains. The Hills with a height of 2,514 meters ranges from the eastern slope of Mt. Kenya to the northeast.
Mbaranga was founded in 1954 as one of eleven factories under the giant Tigania Farmers Society. Due to poor management many factories shut there doors and others consolidated to survive. In 2006, Mbaranga merged with sister factory Nduluma to form the Tigania North Farmers Co-operation Society (FCS). This sustainably-focused society is managed by a 9-member, elected board and boasts a membership of 3,500 farmers. This sustainable conscious co-operative trains its members on best farming practices and provides them with seedlings to replace low yielding trees. Board chair George Mwenda is leading efforts to initiate the growing of macadamia, avocado and other food crops on the society's plot to demonstrate the benefits of inter-cropping and shading coffee trees.
Producer: Small-holder Farmers | Mbaranga Factory
Region: Muthara Town . Meru County . Kenya
Varietal: SL28 . SL34
Harvest Season: September - January | 2018 - 2019
Rain Season: March - May | October - December
Altitude: 1,800-2,000 meters
Soil: Friable Volcanic Loam
Process: Fully-Washed | Dried on Raised-Beds
Mbaranaga processes about 250 tons of coffee cherries annually. Members deliver their selectively hand-picked ripe cherries daily to the mill's collection station where they are carefully hand-sorted to remove damaged and under-ripe cherries. With quality enhanced, the cherries are de-pulped and double fermented with periods of intermittent washing and soaking using fresh water from the Thangatha river originating from the Nyambene Hills. Thangatha flows down to the low lying plain around Tharaka in the south east and finally joins the Tana river. Washed coffee is moved to pre-drying tables to drain excess water and later spread on permanent raised-beds where they are covered during the hottest part of the day to allow even drying. Once dried the coffee is delivered to the Meru county dry mill where it is hulled, polished, sorted and graded.