Our Head Barista Sean McManus merrily takes us through his Kenya coffee trip earlier this year.
Christmas was the most exciting time when you were young; the food, the presents, the sneaking of your pops cold beer when eventually everyone was too drunk and happy to notice a few little sips out of the bottle. Till eventually everyone was so drunk that they thought it was ok to give a youngster a drop or two of beer. It’s harmless…
Well I re-lived that most excited feeling earlier this year when these words were said to me… “SEAN WE’RE SENDING YOU TO KENYA!”
So of course… I was giddy! And now I’d like to share the experience with you…
WELCOME TO SEAN’S KENYAN SIDESHOW SLIDE SHOW!
Kenya was off to a flying start with a trip to Dormans, they are a company that have been based in Kenya since the 1950’s and are the leading exporters for the Kenyan coffee trade, up to 1500 cups are tasted and scored per week and they export around 250,000 bags of coffee per year, (60kg per bag) so as you can imagine… I had my coffee boots on.
My weapons of choice…
As you can see from the photo above I was met by no hasty volume of coffee and cuppers ( green bean buyers from Montmouth Coffee London ), this was merely one table in one room that was replenished with fresh coffees at least 3 times a day per table… yep my taste bud were in overload.”happily”
We were off to “CKCM” Central Kenyan Coffee Mill. We were greeted by some really amazing people that work tirelessly to make sure that traceability of precious single origin coffees is paramount in their operation. This makes our job as the buyer a lot easier to source all the necessary information for you, so you can know where the coffee in your cup came from.
This is a picture of Juliette from CKCM. She spends all of her day sample roasting and prepping cuppings for clients. For some reason I’m still convinced that her smile makes the coffee taste better at CKCM.
This is one section of the green bean storage at CKCM… Yep one part!!!
After tasting some of the delicious coffees on offer we then made our decision on which washing stations to visit.
This is the “de-pulper” out at MUTHEKA washing station. This little demon is responsible for passing hand picked ripe red cherry through the apparatus whilst removing the soft red fruit to leave the slimey parchment ready to go into the fermentation tanks.
Here we have a shaded fermentation tank. In peak season this puppy is pumping green coffee in parchment into the tank and sitting for around 12 hours, which will then be drained and moved to another tank with clean water for an additional 12 hours of soaking.
After the 24 hour soak green coffee still in the parchment will be moved to drying beds, as you can see from the picture above the green coffee is still covered by its yellowy parchment even after 24 hours of soaking.
Coffee is then moved to a storage bay where it can sit for up to 5 days before getting bagged which will be dated and marked for traceability.
This is then stored and ready to be delivered to the mill.
Approval of incoming deliveries and then this baby is off to the green coffee mill where it will be graded and bagged. It will then be sample roasted and cupped for auction and clients.
My trip to Kenya was one of the most exciting things to happen in my life, let alone to my coffee career, it really put a lot of things into perspective for me. I learnt to take more care of every coffee that I come into contact with. A lot of people work very hard in Kenya to bring you coffee that has amazing traceibilty to its point of origin, amazing mills that sample roast and prepare endless cuppings for clients and preperations for auctions.
If it wasn’t for these hard working people it would be near impossible for us to bring you the highest qualitiy coffees from Kenya.
I would like to thank Single O for this opportunity. And Wendy De Jong for letting me see the coffee world from her eyes (as brief as it was). And Phil from Phil & Sebastian coffee roasters in Canada – what I learnt from Phil on the ground will help me assess green coffee to the best of my abilty using the knowledge I have at present.
Over the next few of months we will be featuring some great Kenya coffees, starting with Mirigi AB available this week. Come in to the café and let me brew some up for you, or you an get this precious coffee online HERE.
And of course no trip to Africa would be complete without a photo of me feeding a giraffe…