Kungu Maitu Estate Kenya
- December 2018
- Written by : Geoff Watts
Vice President / Green Coffee Buyer
There are a few things you need to know about Kenyan coffees. The first is that they tend to sing louder and with more dynamic range than those from other origins. These coffees are not known for being subtle.
The second is that most coffee professionals are crazy about them. Their complexity and depth of flavor combined with soaring sweetness make them a cupper’s delight.
And the third is that we don’t often come across Kenyan coffees that have been produced by single farmers. The majority of Kenyan coffees represent the work of hundreds of small farmers, day lots from individual farms bulked by cooperatives at washing stations.
This year we have introduced the Kungu Maitu Estate line of coffees from single farms on which growers process their own coffee and control every variable that affects quality. The second farm in this year’s Kungu Maitu Estate lineup is the Wangera farm of Njeri Kagio.
Njeri is 79 years old. She owns a car, but prefers to walking five kilometers to and from her farm each and every day. There, she roves up and down the steep hillsides pruning trees, spreading manure, applying nutrients, and picking and sorting coffee cherries. The trees, some of which Njeri planted more 50 years ago, are aligned in perfectly manicured rows. Their full, healthy boughs stand in such stark contrast to the neighboring farms that even a first-time visitor can immediately tell which trees belong to the Wangera farm.
Njeri and her husband were both orphaned as children. When they married, they created the family neither of them ever had: seven girls and three boys. Being a mother (Maitu in the local language Kikuyu) of 10 didn’t stop Njeri from managing a farm while raising her children, or contributing to the development of still more children: she used the proceeds from her farm to construct a building that would serve as a center for the community.
Most of her children inherited her entrepreneurial tendencies, moved to Nairobi, and became successful businesspeople. Her eighth of 10 children, Stephen Kagio, returned to the farm a few years ago to help his maitu introduce a few technological improvements and other small adjustments to produce truly spectacular coffee. We had the great good fortune to meet Stephen and Njeri last year, and are thrilled to introduce their coffee to our lineup. Her resilience and youthful spirit and his fine-tuning are both reflected in Wangera’s coffee, which was good enough to earn the best newcomer award for the farm at our second annual Extraordinary Coffee Workshop in 2018. We have no reason to doubt that our new 79-year-old partner, her son and their Wangera farm will continue to bring beautiful things into the world for years to come.