Mtaro Estate is located in the Thika district in the fertile highlands of Central Kenya, some 40 kilometers north of Nairobi. The estate is named after the hand-dug trench—or ‘Mtaro’ in Kiswahili—that supplies the farm with water.
There are two main harvest periods on Mtaro – from April to September and from October to December, with an average yield of around 260 metric tonnes. The coffee cherries are hand-picked, fully washed and dried in the sun when possible.
The farm employs around 300 workers and has a commendable social welfare programme in place. All workers and their families are supplied with clean drinking water and have free access to a health clinic on the estate, with more specialized treatment at the state hospital paid for by the farm if necessary. All permanent workers are provided with a two room house and the upkeep of the buildings is paid for by the estate. No children under the age of 18 are allowed to work on the farm, and there is a committee in place to make sure that workers’ children attend school. The farm management has pledged to protect workers’ rights, encouraging communication between workers, union representatives and managers, and has also established a women’s welfare committee.
The estate has also taken a number of steps to limit its environmental impact. The use of agro-chemicals is kept to a minimum and carefully documented; cherries are dried in the sun whenever possible in order to minimize electricity usage; waste water from the washing process is filtered naturally though a series of filter beds; and, the pulp from coffee cherries is composted and recycled as fertilizer. The estate has also implemented a reforestation programme and strict soil management practices, such as the use of cover-crops to protect against erosion.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Kenya Mtaro Estate, from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters in Tacoma, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Juja, Thika, Kenya
farm: Mtaro Estate
producer: Mtaro Estate
elevation: 1600 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma of the Kenya Mtaro Estate is soft and mellow, but sweet and fragrant. Cocoa and grapes are plentiful, while sweet sugars and stone fruits bring up the back end.
This coffee explodes onto the palate right out of the gates. Immediately, within the first few sips, big time flavors of toffee, roasted almonds, and cinnamon burst onto the scene; it doesn’t end there, though, no sir—there is a tart and zesty lemon acidity that is already swirling around my palate, washing everything clean and leaving behind a sparkly fresh feeling; not to mention the lush cranberry juiciness.
As it cools off, this coffee erupts into a fruity, lively tropicalia. Absolutely beautiful notes of fleshy mango, guava, kiwi, strawberry, and peach spill all over the palate while that lemon acidity dominates the foreground, particularly at room temperature.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; lemon acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
This coffee, the Kenya Mtaro Estate from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters, is a coffee that took me completely by surprise. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but, to be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure what I was expecting. With the aroma, I thought that the coffee was going to be a subtle, mellow affair; but with its being a Kenya, I thought that maybe the cup would be tangy and orangey.
Instead, as it turned out, this coffee was bright, effervescent, sparkling, zesty, and it provided a memorable experience. Really, a unique Kenyan coffee with a few tricks up its sleeves—well worth checking out.
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