Not often do we get the opportunity, or choose to feature a producer (or group of) twice. For a producer to be featured by us, the story has to be something that can build upon the original feature, such as we did two years ago with Colombian producer Diofanor Ruiz.
A much anticipated feature, we've been waiting patiently to be presented with the opportunity to shine a light on this interesting bean phenomenon. The opportunity presented late in 2021 when we spoke to the Toasted team about offerings for our Coffee Advent Calendar, in the form of a fresh shipment of Kenyan coffees, including a few familiar names, one being a favourite from Kirinyaga, Kenya. We have waited patiently as Toasted have made their way through some of their other offerings, being lucky enough to be amoung the first to receive this release of Kamwangi PB. Yes, our first ever Peaberry lot!
We first featured Kamwangi Coffee Factory in July 2020, feature 21. What a coincidence that it would be another 21 featurees before the opportunity presented again.
To better understand the peaberry phenomenon, we need to understand some of the fundamentals of coffee cherries in general. Typically a coffee cherry will contain two seeds, or coffee beans. Peaberry however is a naturally occurring anomaly found in both arabica and robusta species and is believed to be the result of insufficient pollination or climatic conditions.
A typical cherry produces 2 beans, resulting in the inner of the beans being pressed against each other as they grow, this causes each of the beans inside to develop one flat face. Without a second developing bean, peaberries form a slightly larger round and pea like shaped bean, hence the name peaberry. Found in various varieties and countries, peaberry accounts for approximately 5-10% of coffee beans produced.
Peaberry lots (such as this) are the result of high quality crops, sorted (usually mechanically) and sold separate from the remaining lot with many regarding peaberry as being superior in flavour and cup quality.
Because of its more dense composition and unique shape is separated for roasting as it requires a different roasting style to compensate for their shape, ensuring the heat makes it to the middle of the bean.
Located in central Kenya lays Kirinyaga, one of Kenya’s 47 counties and the home of Muthingini coffee factory and the country’s highest peak, Mount Kenya, from which the
country takes its name.
Bordered by 3 other counties, Kirinyaga accounts for 1478 square kilometers of the country, with altitudes ranging from 1158 M.A.S.L to 5380 M.A.S.L at the peak of Mount Kenya.
Approximately 23% of the county remains forested, providing home to quintessential African wildlife such as elephants, buffalo, monkeys and colourful birdlife while the lower altitude forest provides grazing for livestock.
Renown for its coffee production, Kirinyaga is also known for growing some of the most aromatic rice in east Africa, as well as exporting crops such as macadamia.
Steeped in spirituality, the county name means “dwelling place of god” in Kikuyu language.
Traditionally, the Kikuyu people offered their prayers to god at the foot hills of Mt Kenya, today it is still a region of spiritual, cultural and religious and economically significance, with Governor Waiguru (Kenya’s 3rd female Governor) working towards the goal of Kirinyaga being a health and wellness resort hub to the world by 2032.
ORIGINALLY PRINTED FOR OUR 2020 FEATURE
Located the slopes of Mount Kenya, in the north east corner of the world renowned Kirinyaga
county, Kamwangi factory was established in 1983 as the second factory built and operated by the New Ngariama Cooperative society.
Ngariama grow predominately sought after varieties SL28 and SL34, alongside small amount
of Ruiru and Batian with red volcanic soil providing minerals and other goodness that results in optimum production and the quality the region in synonymous for.
Kamwangi has seen production ranges of 481,571 – 874,800kgs in the past seven years harvests (as at 2020).
With increased production, came increased pressure on Kamwangi and Ngariama’s original
factory, Kainamui. This lead to the co -op establishing their third factory and beginning
production at Kaimugumo.
Lemmy Nyaga, factory manager oversees all factory activities, along with his staff members,
they undertake everything from weighing and grading coffee, to remuneration of farmers and addressing farmers complaints.
Cooperative: New Ngariama FCS
Altitude: 1100 – 1800 M.A.S.L
Grade: PB (Pea Berry)
Variety: SL28, Ruiru 11, Batian
Tasting Notes: Cranberry and Cola
Scan below for our 2020 Kamwangi feature
Photo: Allan Gichubi farmer affiliated to Kamwangi factory
Photo Credit: John Burton Limited