About this coffee
Gatina Washing Station sits a few kilometers outside the town of Karatina in Nyeri County. The station was built in 1968, nestled between the western slopes of Mt. Kenya and the eastern slopes of the Aberdares mountains. It is managed by Mugaga Farmers’ Cooperative Society. Today, the station receives cherry from 790 members. Of those, 280 — over 30% — are women.
The 790 members of Gatina station cultivate a total of 142 hectares. This breaks down to about a tenth of a hectare —or a few hundred trees— per farmer. Such small coffee ‘gardens’ makes it possible, vital even, to focus on specialty processing and increase the value per kilogram of cherry picked. Farm labor is usually entirely provided by family members, which can often make maintaining specialty cultivation and picking practices easier. Many of the farmers also grow tea, maize and legumes to consume or sell at local markets for additional cash income.
Harvest & post-harvest
Farmers selectively handpick ripe cherry and deliver it directly to Gatina, or one of the 4 collection points. Cherry is hand sorted at intake and damaged, overripes, and underripes are removed before pulping. The role of the cherry clerk, who must ensure that only the ripest cherry is processed, is of paramount importance. Farmers will not be allowed to submit sub-par cherry and must take any rejected cherry home with them to dry on beds or mats. This cherry can then be submitted at the end of the season as mbuni grade for a much lower price. In this way, farmers are incentivized to only pick cherry that is truly at its peak.
Cherry is pulped with a three-disc pulper and then fermented overnight. All water for pulping and fermentation is drawn from fresh rivers flowing from the many streams on Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares Mountains. Following fermentation, coffee is washed in clean water, soaked, and spread to dry on raised drying beds. Parchment dries for 7 to 15 days. Throughout the drying process, parchment is frequently turned to promote even drying and covered during the hottest part of the day to maintain steady temperatures. Employees also inspect drying parchment and remove any damaged or discolored beans.
Once dry, parchment is delivered to Kahawa Bora Millers, one of our Sister company in Kenya. The mill has the capacity to mill smaller lots separately to help preserve quality and traceability.