Region: Muranga district, Central province
Owners: 1,390 smallholder farmers
Altitude: 1,650 metres above sea level
Variety: 90% SL28 and SL34, 10% Ruiru 11
Processing: Washed and sun dried
Grape-like acidity, sugarcane sweetness and syrupy mouthfeel. Black tea, red apples and plums.
About Riakiberu (with thanks to Melbourne Coffee Merchants)
Riakiberu (pronounced “re-ocky-bear-roo”) is a coffee washing station, or ‘factory’ as it is called in Kenya, situated in the Muranga district in the Mathioya Division of Central Kenya, near the town of Kiriaini. The mill was established in 1958 and serves producers from the villages of Kamure, Kairi and Mukiri.
Riakiberu Coffee Factory is one of the Kamacharia Farmer Cooperative Society’s 1390 members. Coffee varieties grown by members are SL28 and SL34 making up 90% and 10% of Ruiru 11. With ideal conditions for coffee growing, farmers benefit from the mineral-rich volcanic soils and high altitudes that are typical of the area.
After picking, the ripe cherry is brought to the factory by smallholder farmers. At the factory it is weighed and then loaded into a de-pulping machine. After removing the outer fruit of the coffee, the beans are then fermented for 12 to 24 hours, and carefully washed and sorted by weight, with any lower density or lower grade beans removed. They are then sent to soaking tanks where they sit under water for a further 24 hours. This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity. After soaking, the coffee is laid out to dry on raised beds for seven to 15 days.
Riakiberu Coffee Factory currently receives assistance from Coffee Management Services (CMS), who have been on the ground directly helping producers improve their productivity and quality through training and education programs. In addition, farmer members can benefit from financing through free advances before season. The objective of the programme is to establish a transparent and trust-based relationship with the smallholder farmers, helping to support sustained industry growth and driving the continued improvements in quality and in turn, the premiums it fetches.