In the Kirinyaga region, at the base of Mount Kenya, fertile volcanic soil drapes broad, gently rounded slopes that cradle perennial fresh water streams. While fertile terroir is ideal, most would agree cup quality comes from Kenya’s notable commitment to processing cherry. The entire regimen is sometimes referred to as the 72 hour process, a triple ferment process where the third stage utilizes fresh water to remove any lingering fruit. Farmers are encouraged to become members of a cooperative, which markets and sells coffee on the whole communities behalf. Most farmers in Kenya are smallholders and typically produce enough cherry for just a few bags. Washing stations are often called ‘factories’ and play an enormous role in the quality of the final product.
In 1995, The Kii factory was under Ngiriama co-operative society for the first two years, now reorganized as part of Rungeto co-operative society. About 850 farmers supply cherry to this factory resulting in 550 tonnes processed each season. This area is very fertile. One can see the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya from Kii factory. The Kii river services their production, fresh water being used for fermenting and processing. This first stage of drying can last around 6 hours before the parchment is gathered and laid in thicker layers for another 5 -10 days. Dry parchment coffee is then delivered to a private mill and put into ‘bodegas’ to rest — these are raised cells made of chicken wire that allow coffees to breathe fully.