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This AA top lot is from Gakundu factory, operated by Gakundu Farmer’s Co-operative Society in Embu county. Gakundu factory sits at an altitude of 1,650masl and processes cherries from 1,262 local smallholder farmers. Farmers are encouraged to intercrop with banana and maize, as well as Grevillea and Macadamia trees to provide shade and promote soil health. Via a central fund set aside from the previous year’s harvest, co-operative members can access pre-financing for farm inputs, school fees and other investments. The members are also provided with ready access to inputs, Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) seminars and sustainable farming education. The overall goal is to increase production and quality for the members in order to secure higher income.

The region of Embu is located in the South Eastern foothills of Mount Kenya, the highest mountain in the country and second highest in Africa after Kilimanjaro. The extinct volcano forms the backdrop for much of the surrounding country, as well as contributing to the soil fertility and cool air which allows Kenyan coffees to develop such excellence in the cup.

Bordering Kirinyaga county to the west, Embu is one of Kenya’s traditional coffee growing regions. Agriculture represents the largest sector of the local economy, with specialty coffee playing a significant role as a cash crop alongside tea and macadamia nuts.

The coffee cherries are meticulously sorted by hand to separate any over or underripe cherries and to prevent them for making their way into production. Then, once the finest cherries have been selected, the pulp is removed and the coffee if fermented for 24-36 hours under close shade and a watchful eye. After fermentation, the coffee is washed and graded, before being left to dry in the sun on raised African beds for up to 20 days (depending on the weather).

The result is a jammy, blackcurrant flavour with a sweet, rich caramel finish. The coffee was born to be brewed using a pour-over method, but for the adventurous (and experienced at dialling-in) this coffee makes for an interesting espresso.