The Kenya Roi Estate is a small estate located in Kiambu county just north of Nairobi on the foothills of the Aberdare ridge. It grows coﬀee at altitudes of 1700 metres above sea level in red volcanic soil which is rich in organic matter – perfect for the production of high quality coﬀee. The area receives around 1098mm of rainfall annually and there are two distinct wet seasons.
The coﬀee is handpicked and delivered to wet mill where it is pulped. This initially separates the dense beans from the immature ‘mbuni’s (ﬂoaters) using water ﬂoatation which means the denser beans will sink and be sent through channels to the fermentation tank.
This ﬁrst stage of fermentation will last for around 24 hours, after which the beans are washed and sent to the secondary fermentation tank for another 12-24 hours. Once the fermentation process is completed, the beans enter the washing channels where ﬂoaters are separated further and the dense beans are cleaned of mucilage. The washed beans will then enter soaking tanks where they can sit under clean water for as long as another 24 hours. This soaking process allows amino acids and proteins in the cellular structure of each bean to develop which results in higher levels of acidity and complex fruit ﬂavours in the cup – it is thought that this process of soaking contributes to the ﬂavour proﬁles that Kenyan coﬀees are so famed for.
The beans are then transferred to the initial drying tables where they are laid in a thin layer to allow around 50% of the moisture to be quickly removed. This ﬁrst stage of drying can last around 6 hours before the beans are gathered and laid in thicker layers for the remaining 5-10 days of the drying period. The dry parchment coﬀee is then delivered to a private mill and put into ‘bodegas’ to rest – these are raised cells made of chicken wire which allows the coﬀee to breathe fully. Coﬀee is traditionally sold through the country’s auction system, though recent amendments to the coﬀee law of Kenya have brought about the introduction of direct trading whereby farmers can by-pass the auction and sell directly to speciality roasters around the world.