Kenya - Kihiriga Pb
Washed and sundried on raised beds
Intense flavours with notes of plum, biscuit and lemon-lime acidity
Kahiriga is one of seven mills under the Rwaikamba co-op. There are 640 members delivering coffee cherries to the factory which uses river water for wet processing. The small holder farmers supplying the factory have small plots of land which they hand pick and deliver to Kahiriga. This harvest, the mill produced 30 bags of peaberries.
Nicaragua-La hammonia, Selva Negra
La Hammonia - Selva Negra
Caturra and Catuai
Washed and Patio dried
The Kühl Family
Peach, toffee, floral with a buttery mouthfeel.
In the late 1800s, German families immigrated to the New World in search of better lives and livelihoods. On their way north to try their luck in California’s gold rush, they paused in Nicaragua and fell in love. So they stayed. And some of them planted coffee.
In 1974, Eddy and Mausi Kühl, both descendants of German immigrants, brought one of those coffee farms. They refurbished the La Hammonia farm and made it totally diversified and sustainable in less than a decade. They have preserved a third of the property as virgin forest, another third as shade coffee forest, and the last third as intensive rotational pastures for cattle and organic farming.
Selva Negra encompasses not only the farm but the lodge, restaurant and facilities. The coffee in La Hammonia has 12 separate lots, each lot is separated by varietal that is uniquely divided into elevations ranging from 1200- 1400 masl. The lots are shade grown and the trees are fertilized with organic fertilizer made on the farm, La Hammonia is certified organic.
The cherries are picked and then taken to the wet mill on the farm, where the coffee is processed using water from the mountain. Fermentation is 12 hours in the mucilage. A second wash is applied before being moved to the covered drying beds. The lots are harvested individually, cupped and then blended so there is traceability of lot volumes and cup profile from season to season. Once the coffee is dry it is moved to the dry mill on the farm where it is processed and packed. There's a nursery on the farm which is used for new tree planting, they are currently replanting 50 hectares at a time as some of the trees are over 65 years old. They are also growing and experimenting with a new variety called Marsellaza – an improved Catimor variety.
Along with growing coffee, Selva Negra has developed into a completely self-sustaining eco village. There is a vegetable garden which provides vegetables for the restaurant, a farm of pigs, cows and chickens for meat and eggs. There is also a bakery and a cheese making factory. The power is generated by solar panels around the farm and on the roofs. Methane gas is produced for cooking by using the wastewater from coffee processing. The farm itself produces everything needed an everything has 2-3 uses. For the workers, there is a village on the farm with housing, a school for the children, a medical clinic and a baseball diamond (baseball is the number one sport in Nicaragua), and they have their own team competing in the national competition. The workers have power, running water and satellite tv. They are charged $1 per year for rent so that they have legal tenancy leases. The restaurant and lodge on the farm provide a pathway for pickers to learn new skills and undertake new employment in the off season, the manager of the restaurant herself started out as a coffee picker on the farm.
There is a huge amount of history around Selva Negra, there are walks in the forest where you may encounter ancient relics and buildings and also wildlife. There is a family spirit driving this enterprise, that makes it a very special place. It’s an incredible farm to visit for the experience of seeing what can be achieved with an open mind and a true goal of sustainability.
If you want to know more about the La Hammonia farm, visit the website below:
*Photos courtesy of Tony Strickett (First Crop) and selva negra website
El Salvador - el carmen
The Alfaro Family
Fruity and velvety sweet, with notes of ripe strawberries, pineapple, and roasted marshmallows.
El Carmen Estate is located at 1,300m above sea level in El Salvador’s Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range, one of Central America’s prime specialty coffee producing areas. The estate has been owned by the Alfaro family for over a century.
El Carmen estate was founded in the middle of the 19th century when Antonio José Alfaro acquired a plot of land near the village of Ataco, meaning ‘Site of Elevated Springs’ in the indigenous Nahuatl language, and started to produce coffee. His son, Agustin Alfaro, founder of the Salvadoran National Coffee Company, followed in his father’s footsteps and established El Carmen as one of El Salvador’s leading exporters. His efforts were continued by Antonio Alfaro, head of the third generation of this coffee family and are carried through today by Fernando Alfaro, the fourth generation of his family to farm coffee.
El Carmen lies in the heart of El Salvador’s main ‘protected highway’ of forest, a part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor System that stretches all the way from Mexico down to Panama. In El Salvador, where more than 80% of the country’s coffee is produced under shade, this eco-system is based mainly in the coffee forest. For this reason, coffee farms such as El Carmen play a vital role as a sanctuary for hundreds of the migratory and native bird species found in this part of the world.
The high quality of El Carmen is due to the estate’s prime growing conditions and the family’s meticulous approach to harvesting and processing. The family place great emphasis on maintaining the identity of each lot from the moment its coffee cherries are harvested until the point when the green beans are ready for export. The estate’s coffee is produced under approximately 60% shade cover, which helps protect the coffee from the sun and ensures the coffee ripens slowly and evenly. Prior to the rainy season, shade trees are then pruned to about 40% shade to allow the access of light necessary for new foliage growth.
The Alfaro family manage the processing of El Carmen with scrupulous attention to detail. The red and orange (also known as pink) Bourbon cherries are hand-picked only when perfectly ripe and delivered on the same day to the El Carmen mill. When preparing the Honey process, the cherries are pulped, upon arrival, using no water and transferred directly through silos to meticulously clean patios. On the patios they are initially turned every 20-25 minutes to ensure uniform drying. The high altitude of the mill helps the coffee dry slowly, usually over 20 days. Using no water to depulp or move the coffee guarantees that all the mucilage is left on the coffee bean and when drying gives a special fruit driven flavour and characteristic to the coffee.
Once dry, the coffee is stored in parchment in wooden silos to protect the freshness of each individual bean, left to ‘rest’ for a minimum of 60 days under controlled conditions to reach uniform humidity. The lots are consistently cupped whilst in storage. Once ready, the beans are prepared and screened to uniform size for export to us.
*Images taken by MCM