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Do The Right Thing

Do The Right Thing

Posted by Reid Tedder on Nov 15th 2019

Kenya Nyeri Ndaroini AA

To do the right thing, sometimes it takes a strong will to break the rules and rewrite them in order to make the world a better place. One of the importing groups we work with, Trabocca, has done just that. After working closely with farmers and communities in Kenya, they began to witness firsthand the bad cards being dealt to those farmers by a system rigged to always have them come out short. Kenya’s outflow of coffee is governed by a handful of conglomerates that charge high prices for export, delay payments, or gave dangerously high-rate interest loans to the farmers so the controlling powers could make a profit. This has resulted in many farmers turning away from coffee altogether. Trabocca knew what must be done, and proceeded to buy coffee upfront from the farmers (with little to no roaster commitments or contracts discussed prior, thus a huge risk). This bypassed the conglomerates and allowed farmers to get an amazing price upfront, allowing for farm development, community development, and were able to afford continuing education for their children (something they otherwise would have struggled long periods waiting for payment). This deal also committed to further payments later on. This action was met with some opposition from the powers that be, to try to threaten or intimidate those involved in the deal. All this said, it was a success, and we are more than happy to be part of a movement for just-change.

When the coffee arrived, it was beautiful, as expected, giving off delicious notes of gentle acidity and florality, common with Kenyan coffees. This particular lot, however, was able to distinguish itself from others of its own origin. Kenyan coffees are typically roasted light, as many of it’s wonderful notes are best showcased at lighter profiles. This coffee happened to show us it’s gentle, delightful self at a darker profile than usual, and thus got our attention. At this darker point, the notes of cranberry and lemon acidity flow into the center of a chocolate coating, hitting the tongue in full. Nutmeg follows through after the delivery, giving it an interesting complexity usually lost or faint at this profile. Everything ends with a nice lasting floral acidity, and lingering dark fruit. Who knew being a little rebellious could taste so good?

Bonus Notes from Scott’s Desk:

Kenya Nyeri Ndaroini AA

Notes: This is a project that Menno Simmons, general manager of Trabocca, has been working on for several years. Earlier this year Trabocca signed a contract with the Ndaroini washing station to buy coffee directly from producers in Nyeri. The first containers have just arrived. I committed to a few bags as I think this is a worthy project and am hoping that we can generate enough traction with our customers that we can continue with this in the years to come.

I think the best introduction to this is the email that Menno sent out in February detailing the project:

“Hi,

During the many visits and discussions with the farmers of Nyeri last year, it became clear to us that they have no idea what happens with their coffee after the cherries are delivered. The current system keeps them in the dark and is far from transparent. Whether it is about weight conversions from cherry to green, or milling, grading, waste ratios, pricing, costs, (crazy) interest rates; they have no clue. This is about to change.

I am happy to announce that the direct contract with Ndaroini washing station, which is part of Gikanda Cooperative Society Ltd., has officially been signed last week. The signing was witnessed by the entire management board of Gikanda Cooperative Society Ltd., the representative of Ndaroini Coffee Factory, Coffee Directorate area manager Elizabeth Gathoni, a representative of the State Department of Cooperatives, Rockbern (our partner in Kenya), and me; representing Trabocca.

It was a long road to get to this point. All kinds of powers within the Kenyan coffee market were working against this new deal. Together with the Nyeri farmers and our Kenyan partner Rockbern, we experienced several scrupulous actions initiated by a large corporate company; who obviously see us as a threat to their longtime monopoly.

Our goal in Kenya is simple: we wish to reenergize the coffee farmers of Nyeri, who are demotivated by the current system. We aim to create a new 'ecosystem', where; knowledge, experience, techniques, innovation, smart funding, and pride come together, and result in higher quality coffees, better yields, and in prices that dignify the efforts of the Nyeri coffee farmers.

It is also our goal to get you more involved in this movement. We already have several leading roasters joining us. Their enthusiasm has been motivating and pivotal for this new movement. And, we are happy to have you on board, as well.

We plan to process and ship all the coffee from Ndaroini in February. I will update you when samples are available, and when the coffee reaches the United States and Europe.

Best,

Menno Simons”

Tasting Notes:

Nutmeg, Lemon, Cranberry

Brightness: 4

Roast: 5 

Complexity 6