2014 is shaping up to be a big year for Kenya coffee. Our first shipment is about to hit the water & we are excited to be featuring some amazing coffees over the coming months. Wendy De Jong our coffee buyer & Sean McManus our head barista will also be heading to Nairobi next month to pick out our mirco-lots.
Here’s a little bit from Wendy about how coffee is sold in Kenya:
Main crop new harvest is underway in Kenya & it is exciting to be here for the beginning of the new crop auctions that will see us through 2014.
The Nairobi Coffee Exchange is one of the most transparent coffee trading systems in the world, & a reliable way to reward producers for high quality coffee. An elected volunteer body called Kenya Coffee Producers Trade Association oversees the Kenya coffee auction system.
During the main crop, 8 Marketing Agents send samples of all the fresh coffee they have received during the week to the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. Every Thursday those samples are available to exporters for cupping prior to the auction. During the peak of harvest it is not unusual for coffee exporters to cup over 1,000 samples per week, across all qualities, from grinders to Top AA micro-lots. With at least 2 cups per sample, which means the average professional coffee cupper in Nairobi has to accurately evaluate around 400 samples per day. That is A LOT of cupping.
The auction takes place in a building in downtown Nairobi called the Wakulima House. Built in the 60’s it gives the impression that time has stood still inside those walls. It has stadium style seating facing an electronic board that lists the coffees being bid on, & showing the action as it happens! Representatives from Export associations sit in their assigned seats & push the button in front of them, which elicits a small “beep” to register their bid; it’s an all day beep fest.
Once the coffee has been purchased it moves to the exporters factory where it will be sold to buyers on it’s own, or bulked with other lots. The coffee is then bagged, marked & prepared for export.
Stay tuned for some great Kenya coffees in 2014. This month we are featuring our last 2013 harvest coffee from the Kiangoi coffee factory, which is part of the Rungeto Coop Society that lies close to Mt Kenya – a key area for Kenya’s large coffee industry. Enjoy it at the café or buy it online here.