The closing act to our Peaberry Collective is the Kiamaina Factory. As the largest cooperative in our showcase of the complex and transforming Kenyan coffee supply chain, Kiamaina Factory is also the most traditional.
Typically, Cooperative Societies act as umbrella organisations for several wet mills, also known as factories. As one of 5 mills feeding into the Kiama Farmers Cooperative Society, Kiamaina Factory accounts for 486 members of the total 4,375 collective membership. A significant number, considering each registered member represents an entire family. Offering both agronomic and social support to its members, these Cooperative Societies play a vital role in the sustainability of a healthy coffee industry. Often, more established and well-managed factories pay a small advance upon delivery, further contributing towards increased financial security for smallholders.
Kiamaina Factory, located in Neyri County, is renowned for its fertile volcanic soil and ideal coffee growing climate. Yet, I might argue, it is their attention to detail and close-knit management that brings the big flavours home. Carefully sorting through cherry to separate the ripe from the un or over-ripe, Kiamaina Factory does a stellar job at enhancing the work of their members.
Mainly producing fully washed coffee, Kenya is considered by many as the world’s premier quality coffee producer. With 55% of its annual production represented by over seven-hundred-thousand smallholders, our collective has led us from a small cooperative to a direct purchasing project, closing the cycle with a large organisation. Clearly, the golden thread of quality runs right through, steadfast and confident.
So what exactly is it that makes the Kenyan peaberry so unique? Peaberries are naturally occurring anomalies. Instead of growing two beans in a pod, a peaberry is a single, round bean, that when green looks like a pea, hence the name peaberry. Typically, peaberries account for only 5 – 10% of an annual harvest rendering the sorting process time-consuming and complicated, delivering small yields at a higher cost. Kenya is one of the very few countries with systems in place to sort and select peaberries at harvest, throughout the industry, therefore adding to their rich coffee offering.
Built over many months, we thoroughly enjoyed this journey through the landscape of the Kenyan supply chain. Personally, I can’t imagine a sweeter goodbye to our collective than the Kiamaina PB. Fruity, balanced, tea-like and fresh it is the embodiment of what a Kenyan peaberry should be, and a higher note, we could not possibly reach.
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