This Fairtrade AA coffee is produced by small-holder farmers of the Karatina wet mill affiliated with the Barichu co-operative in Nyeri County, Kenya. Built in 1987, the factory was once under the mega Mathira collective before breaking away in 1996 to better serve its members. Karatina joined with three other factories, Karindundu, Gatomboya and Gaturiri to form the Barichu co-operative, one of the largest co-ops in Nyeri, which boasts a membership of about 5,800 farmers. Member tend on average 300 coffee trees on their less than an hectare plots, on which they also grow maize, bananas and macadamia trees. These plots are located in the Kenya highlands between the eastern base of the Aberdare Range and Mt. Kenya, a region rich in volcanic soil and blessed with strategic rainfall. Here, the coffee beans develop a classic Kenyan flavor profile that is balanced in fruitiness and acidity.
Members deliver their selectively hand-picked ripe cherries daily to the Karatina collection station where they are carefully hand sorted to remove damaged and under-ripe cherries. With quality enhanced, the cherries are de-pulped using a four disc pulper and double fermented with periods of intermittent washing and soaking using fresh water from the Ragati river. The coffee beans are next moved to pre-drying tables to drain excess water and later spread on permanent raised-beds where they are covered during the hottest part of the day to allow even drying.
Barichu is a big advocate of sustainable farming practices and encourages its members to plant shade trees, recycle pulp as organic fertilizer and plant grass to conserve soil. A team of full-time agronomists model out these techniques on the co-op's demo station plot. In addition, Barichu sets a high bar in payouts as its members receive 95% of their coffees' price versus the industry's 82% . Members also receive credit for farm inputs, school fees, and medial emergencies.