Today’s coffee comes from the Kenya Mugaga Farmers Cooperative, based in Nyeri. Kiamabara is a “factory” (a coffee mill) that is part of the Mugaga Farmers Cooperative Society (it is one of five that is operated by Mugaga), directed by Peter Macharia.
The Kiamabara Factory was established in 1995, after the split of the giant Mathira Society and is now owned by small scale farmers. It’s near Karatina Town in Mathira, Nyeri with average farms in the area at a 1600 meter altitude. Red volcanic soil with patches of loam and black cotton predominate in the area, giving the rise to a proliferation of Grevillia and indigenous trees and other crops including tea, corn, and bananas on the plantations. Wild animal such as buffaloes, elephants, antelopes, monkeys as well as many others can be found in the area, often finding their way into the factory grassland to graze.
It’s a typical cooperative in those respects, but the quality of coffee produced at this mill has been very high season after season. Each factory has hundreds of small-hold farmers that contribute to it.
These SL28 and 34 cherries were hand picked and processed with two fermentations, a post soak and multiple washing stages in between. The coffees are then immediately dried in two stages on raised beds. As with other good coops in Nyeri, they always have the farmer separate the ripeness of the coffee cherry before submitting it for processing, removing under-ripes that create astringency in the cup.
Small things like this make a huge difference in the resulting coffee.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Kenya Mugaga, from Kuma Coffee in Seattle, Washington, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Mathira, Nyeri, Kenya
farm: Kiamabara Factory
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Mugaga Farmers Cooperative
elevation: 1600 – 1700 meters above sea level
cultivars: SL28, SL34
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma coming off of the Kenya Mugaga is super sweet—a baker’s delight with incredible scents of vanilla, cake batter, sugar, and baker’s spices.
Immediately post-brew, my palate is introduced to warm, cozy flavors of vanilla, caramel, and dulce de leche while a sprinkling of brown sugar and shaved almond lightly dust the back of the tongue. After a little while, I’m starting to pick up notes of black currant and raisin.
As it cools, the cup bursts to life with a really bright, tart grapefruit acidity, while further flavors of cherry, strawberry, cranberry, golden delicious apple, plum wine, nectarine, and silky rose petals. There’s also something like mulling spices (cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, orange rind) tickling the sides and back of the tongue that reminds me of apple cider.
Medium body; winy mouthfeel; grapefruit acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
The Kenya Mugaga, from Kuma Coffee, provides a really unique sipping experience. It is delicious, engaging, and utterly complex.
Up front, the coffee is warm, comforting, and inviting. Like a cozy flannel shirt, it wraps you up with sweet and scrumptious bakers spices and confections; as it cools, the cup explodes with bright, wild juiciness; and, at room temperature, it settles into a combination of the two—equal parts soothing and exciting.
This is a perfect autumnal coffee.
Did you like this? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome here at the Table! Pull up a chair and speak your mind by entering a comment below. Also remember to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.