2021 Special Collector Kenya – Karimikui



12 ounces

39 in stock




Mt. Kenya, at the helm of Kenya’s Central Province, is the second tallest peak on the continent of Africa and a commanding natural presence. The mountain itself is a single point inside a vast and surreal thicket of ascending national forest and active game protection communities. The central counties of Kenya extend from the center of the national park, like six irregular pie slices, with their points meeting at the peak of the mountain. It is along the lower edge of these forests where, in wet, high elevation communities with mineral-rich soil (Mt. Kenya is a stratovolcano) many believe the best coffees in Kenya, often the world, are crafted. Kirinyaga county is one of the smallest and yet best known of these central counties, next to its neighbor, Nyeri. Year after year Kirinyaga coffees are beloved for their ripe fruit-forward profiles, many reminiscent of berry jam, mandarin, and lemongrass. Kenya’s coffee is dominated by a cooperative system of production, whose members vote on representation, marketing and milling contracts for their coffee, as well as profit allocation.

The Karimikui processing station, or “factory” as they’re known in Kenya, alone has 1400 contributing farmer members, and is one of only three factories that comprise its local Farmers Cooperative Society (FCS), Rungeto. Farmers belonging to Karimikui average slightly more than 500 kilograms of picked cherry each, the same as roughly 1.3 60kg bags of exportable green coffee. High FOB prices for great Kenyas, while the norm, are not a panacea, and in Kenya in particular the number of individual margins sliced off an export price before payment reaches the actual farms is many, leaving only a small percentage to support coffee growth itself, and most often this arrives many months after harvest. However, Kenya coffees are sold competitively by quality, which means well-endowed counties like Kirinyaga achieve very high average prices year after year, and many smallholders here with a few hundred trees at the most, along with additional employment or land uses in the highlands, are considered to be middle class.

Rungeto FCS oversees the operations of all three member cooperatives, Karimikui, Kii, and Kiangoi. The group, as is common to cooperative societies country-wide, has a farmer-elected board with members from each sublocation. Rungeto was originally formed after the closure of a previous society, Ngiriama FCS, in the 1990s, when the asset holders of these three factories decided to re-organize anew. In 1997 the factories reopened under the new society name and have been operating together as Rungeto FCS ever since.

Kenya is known for some of the most meticulous at-scale processing that can be found anywhere in the world. Bright white parchment, nearly perfectly sorted by density and bulk conditioned at high elevations is the norm, and a matter of pride, even for generations of Kenyan processing managers who prefer drinking Kenya’s tea (abundantly farmed in nearby Muranga county) to its coffee. Ample water supply in the central growing regions has historically allowed factories to wash, and wash, and soak, and wash their coffees again entirely with fresh, cold river water. Conservation is creeping into the discussion in certain places–understandably in the drier areas where water, due to climate change, cannot be as taken for granted—but for the most part Kenya continues to thoroughly wash and soak its coffees according to tradition. The established milling and sorting by grade, or bean size, is a longstanding tradition and positions Kenya coffees well for roasters, by tightly controlling the physical preparation and creating a diversity of profiles from a single processing batch.


Region: Kirinyaga County, Kenya
Altitude: 1600 – 1800 MASL
Harvest: October – December

1400 producers organized around the Karimikui Factory

SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, and Batian

Fully washed and dried in raised beds

FLAVOR Blueberry, apricot, vanilla, baking spices

Light – City

Additional information

Weight 12 oz

From our importer, Royal Coffee:

It really starts to feel like summertime when the high grade dry processed coffees from Ethiopia start to land, and this is one of our absolute favorites. We’ve been anticipating its arrival for months. While a washed coffee from the same producer knocked our socks off last month, for many of us here at Royal it would be the arrival of this natural coffee from Bedhatu Jibicho, with its delicate florality layered on top of ripe strawberry, raspberry, and peach notes, that captured our attention. We couldn’t be more thrilled to share it.

Bedhatu Jibicho has become a standard-bearer in Royal’s menu. Not only is the octogenarian Ethiopian among the most experienced coffee farmers we work with, she’s also evolved from cooperative member to exporter, taking full advantage of recently ratified changes to the ECX allowing for improved direct trade. In the past, we’d been able to secure her coffee through a special agreement with the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, in which they held separate, and sold to us directly, lots like that of Bedhatu. However, starting last season, Bedhatu and her neighbors have banded together, with support from her son Tesfaye Roba, using the premiums they’ve received to establish a farmer-owned export company to sell us their coffee independently.

Banko Gotiti is the kebele, or neighborhood, within the Gedeb woreda (district) of the Gedeo Zone. Mostly known by coffee folks for Yirgacheffe town near its center, Gedeo is a funny little appendage that droops south of Sidama, off the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region and into Oromia. Gedeb is Gedeo’s southeastern-most woreda, and Banko Gotiti is the last kebele in the east before the border of the Hambela Wamena district of Guji, within Oromia. Geography in this part of Ethiopia can be a little confusing, compounded by redrawn districts about a decade ago and the expected fluidity of borders in a largely unincorporated agricultural landscape.

All this is relevant, however, because this region is fertile, booming with coffee, and also at the center of regional ethnic conflicts that predate the borders. Ethiopia’s woredas and regions are largely related to ethno-linguistic groups. The Gedeo people are one such group, as are the Oromo people. The Oromo have long been marginalized in Ethiopia, despite their population making up nearly a third of the total number of Ethiopian citizens. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is Oromo, and his progressive policies — well publicized in Western press — have largely overshadowed the threats of displacement, violence, and famine in Gedeb and Guji.

As coffee buyers, ongoing support of the resilience and work of folks like Bedhatu Jibicho can provide a measure of stability in uncertain times. It’s a testament to the fastidiousness and quality of the work undertaken by Bedhatu Jibicho and her family and network that we even have the coffee in the first place, much less that it tastes so incredibly delicious.


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