Kenya, Organics, and the Muiri Estate
Author | groundwork coffee Date | May 12, 2020
Introducing the third coffee in our Three Organic Stories Collection, Kenya Muiri Estate! This light roast is floral and complex, with notes of green apple, goji berry, and sweet lemon. Muiri Estate is a special coffee to us as it comes from one of the first and only Certified Organic coffee farms in Kenya. Read on to hear from our Chief Coffee Guy, Jeff Chean, about why this coffee is so groundbreaking for organics in Kenya.
Organic coffee from Kenya is a unicorn in our industry. The story of our new Limited Reserve Kenya Muiri Estate coffee is not so much about what region in Kenya the estate resides, or the type of soil it grows in. It’s not even that the coffee is certified organic, but that is certainly part of the story. The story is about why organic coffee from Kenya is so rare.
When one thinks of organic coffee, Kenya doesn’t top the list. It might not even be on the list. While Kenya is renown for its excellent coffees and it’s well-organized and successful coffee auction system, when it comes to organic coffee (and organic agriculture in general)…not so much.
There are quite a few reasons why this may be the case. For one, over 99% of the approximately 803,000 coffee growers in Kenya are small holders. A small holder is a farmer with land of less than 5 acres (often much less) of total land; some of which they grow coffee on. All these small holders belong to coops because of the expense involved with wet and dry processing one’s own coffee as well as the sales channels the coop has developed. Unless quite a few farmers in a coop decided to form an association with the intention of getting certified organic, there isn’t generally a lot of momentum (or maybe even support) to be certified.
Another reason might be that there just isn’t that much of anything organic being grown in Kenya. The fact that only about 2% of all Kenya’s agricultural land – not just for coffee - is certified organic says how much national interest there is in organic agriculture. All this to say, we were pleasantly surprised to receive a coffee from Kenya's Mugiai family that not only met our requirements for Certified Organic but also tasted great in the cup! Moreover, we appreciated that the Mugiai family shared our passion for increasing the organic footprint as they dedicate a large percentage of their land to share with 1000 local families to cultivate their own coffee.
For me, that sort of thinking adds an extra note of sweetness to an already complex and multi-layered cup. We’ve been playing around with the roasting profile as we prepare to launch the coffee. While I was cupping one of these experimental roasts, I flashed back on a childhood memory. This sort of thing happens to me when I am tasting a coffee and something new jumps out at me; something that doesn’t fit neatly on to the coffee flavor wheel. I smelled, and then tasted, a flavor that took me back to helping some family friends celebrate Christmas. They were a family of Italian descent and at their Christmas party, besides amazing handmade ravioli and Braciole, were these cookies that had a slightly almond liquor flavor. Bang! It naturally occurs in the cup. There’s a lot going on in this coffee and we’ve landed on a roast profile that we think will highlight as many of those qualities as possible.
Pick up a special 6oz package of Certified Organic Kenya Muiri Estate in our online store. Available for a limited time.