HELEN GICHOHI, Ngoe AB
The new season's fresh crop AB from Helen Gichohi’s Ngoe washing station, sourced through Vava Coffee. This lot is graded AB in bean size which is slightly smaller than an AA. It’s juicy and rich and has notes of plum, pink grapefruit and dark chocolate.
CULTIVAR: SL28, Ruiru 11, Batian
PREPARATION: Fully Washed
LOCATION: Kiru, Kiriani, Muranga County
ALTITUDE: 1,830 - 1,860 masl
PRICE PAID: £17.53/kg
Ngoe farm is located in Kiru Location, Kiriani sub-county in Muranga County, on the border with Othaya in Nyeri County. The farm has a total of 11,000 trees of arabica coffee, the majority being old SL 28 and Ruiru 11 varieties. More recently, the owner Helen Gichohi and her team have planted some Batian as well.
The coffee farm has been in existence for over 30 years but was abandoned a few years after the previous owner passed away. A part of the coffee farm was recovered about 10 years ago and it has slowly been rehabilitated to produce high-quality coffee since. The farm has its own wet mill and associated infrastructure. The farm also has year-round access to water from a borehole and a nearby river but the coffee is currently not irrigated. Plans are afoot to do so, to upgrade the infrastructure but most importantly to increase production and fulfil the great potential of the farm. Ngoe employs 3 full-time staff and relies on daily wage labour depending on farming and management needs.
Helen is a conservation biologist by training. She took over from the previous owner and because she had little experience in coffee farming she decided to have all the coffee cut back to give time for some learning and reflecting. In honour of the previous owner, who successfully introduced coffee to the region and was passionate about growing it, she decided to retain it, though she had full-time work elsewhere.
Helen had previously been involved in the coffee sector in her role as the head of the African Wildlife Foundation in the region. Under a project funded by Starbucks AWF, she supported farmers in 3 large cooperatives in Nyeri. The funding provided technical assistance to farmers to improve coffee farming practices and supported cooperatives with improvements in management.
Although Helen was only marginally involved in the work on the ground, she did get a good impression of the challenges and opportunities in the coffee sector. In the recent past, however, she was not able to invest much in the farm. But over the last two years, this has changed. She is now investing more time and money and looks forward to an exciting time as she engages more to increase production and to better understand the sector.
This lot was sourced and exported by Vava Coffee, a Certified B-Corp with a social enterprise business model that has a network of coffee producers in different regions of East Africa. The company aims to contribute to better future prospects for coffee communities and the industry as a whole and are geared towards sustainable livelihoods for the people and communities they work with. Located in the picturesque Kajiado county inhabited by the calm yet courageous Maasai community, they work in this atypical coffee growing region to influence and transform communities by providing economic empowerment opportunities using coffee - through trade, education and capacity building with a sharp focus on elevating the opportunities for women and girls in these communities.