Kungu Maitu Estate Kenya
- January 2019
- Written by : Geoff Watts
Vice President / Green Coffee Buyer
During our frequent visits to the coffee-growing hills of Central Kenya, the farmers we work with keep steering the conversation back to community. It is not lip service. Soon after we started working with Mary Maina Manyeki back in 2016, she began lobbying to get her neighbors involved in our collaboration.
Walking down the road toward her farm on our last visit, she stopped to proudly show off the coffee trees of neighboring farms while her neighbors expressed their gratitude for the example she sets in the community and the knowledge she shares. Last year, Mary introduced us to Marion Wawira, whose family farm Murage lies just down the road from Manyeki Estate in Kirinyaga County, at an optimal elevation of 1650 meters above sea level.
When the patriarch of Marion’s family started the Murage farm in the mid-1900s, he added coffee to the mix to supplement the other crops. For generations, the family put little emphasis on its coffee, partly because its outlook was so unsteady, with market prices waxing and waning. Fortunately for us, Marion has taken an active interest in Murage’s coffee. She doesn’t just work the fields actively with her farm manager Elias to ensure he is applying the kinds of agronomic practices that boost yields, drive quality and resist disease. She also visits the city to cup sample roasts of her coffee and monitor quality. This holistic approach has served Marion well.
Most of Murage’s coffee consists of the SL-28 cultivar grafted onto the root stock of Ruiru 11. The SL-28 is renowned for producing a sweet and juicy cup profile, the Riuru 11 for its robust root system and disease resistance. Marion and Murage used the combination of these varieties to mitigate the effects of Coffee Berry Disease last season and produce a careful selection of SL-28 that met our elevated standards for Kenya single-origin releases.
We are delighted to share with you the first of what we expect to be many releases over the years to come from Marion Wawira and her Murage farm.