If anything is certain in the coffee industry in Kenya, it’s that politics will always have a presence. This past 2013/2014 season was no exception. The industry saw a heavy dose of interference from outside players, politicians with no prior experience in the coffee trade, and it has taken a serious toll on farmers across Kenya’s most fabled coffee growing region. Sadly, the propaganda driven by the county office of Nyeri has resulted in unfulfilled promises and greater hardship for farmers in the region. Not only were the record prices promised by the Nyeri government not delivered, but half the crop failed to be delivered the the market at all. It’s one of the biggest tragedies I’ve witnessed in my short coffee career to date.
Nyeri is one of the coffee industry’s most prized growing areas. Most of the production is centered between Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare mountain range. The town of Karatina sits at its epicenter. With the perfect mix of high altitude, quality varietals, and climate, it’s a garden of eden for top coffee lots. Very few other coffees, if any, receive the justified acclaim and accompanying price differentials that the best Nyeri lots receive.
This year, Red Fox has continued to work with our one and only supplier of Kenyan coffees and our patience has paid off. We have top lots now afloat from Nyeri; lots that fortunately made it out of the governor’s grasp and on to the CKCM mill in the Central Highlands. By all appearances, and based on the latest news coming from Kenya, I’m confident enough to surmise that things will be back to working order come next season. At the very least we hope that this latest political interference in Nyeri will no longer affect our ability to purchase top Kenyan coffees, nor our ability to ensure that farmers in Nyeri are paid for the exquisite coffees they produce.
Kenya has some of the most unique and powerful cup profiles in all of the coffee producing world. Flavors tend to run the full sensorial gamut — from dark fruits to refreshing citrus, from raw honey to dark muscovado sugar, and from a syrupy mouthfeel to a mouthfeel full of fresh cream. We’re offering three lots from a range of altitudes in the Abderdare range this season. We put these samples, and dozens more, through heavy scrutiny on our cupping table. They are the best lots Red Fox saw this season and are in very limited supply.