Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Dorman's was established in the 1950s, and is the largest coffee roaster and retailer in Kenya—and indeed, in all of East Africa. Following a tour of the facility, the Land Cruisers rumbled once more into the frightful Nairobi traffic and headed out to one of the wealthier suburbs, Karen. Pulling up to a minimall off the main road, three-time Kenyan barista champion and current barista trainer, John Makau, met the group at one of Dorman's cafés in Karen. Other than the herd of cattle being driven across the traffic circle outside, the sleek and stylish café with its exposed wood and minimalist design would look right at home in a Nordic country. With great hospitality, John and his crew treated the baristas to a tasting of some of Dorman's best coffees. Dorman's, however, represents the exception and not the rule when it comes to coffee consumption in Kenya. Like many producing countries, almost all of the coffee grown in Kenya leaves for other lands. Less than three percent of the coffee stays in country. Unlike its neighbor to the north, Ethiopia, however, coffee consumption is not intrinsic to the Kenyan culture. Part of that is due to price: Coffee is too expensive for locals to buy (or to pass up on the profits of selling it abroad). Part of it is a lingering piece of colonialism: Coffee was historically a white person's drink. The next morning, the Land Cruisers picked up steam on a sixlane superhighway out of town and headed northeast for the SMS offices in Thika. The road to Thika once would have been lined with coffee farms, but as in so many places, pressure from the swelling metropolis has taken much of the land out of production, and instead of coffee trees, cinderblock buildings and housing Opposite page: At top, bags of sample coffees fill the Green Room at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. Below: Former barista champion of Kenya, John Makau, gives the team a demonstration of what he's working on at Dormans café in the Nairobi suburb of Karen. This page: The team gathers for a photo-op following breakfast served al fresco during their safari, meanwhile a herd of wildebeest contemplates crossing the river behind them. developments now trace the highway for miles outside of Nairobi. At SMS, the group learned about the work the company has been doing to help farmers improve the yield and quality of their crops. Part of SMS' success depends on its model where coffee farmers select one of their peers to become a trainer. The trainers attend monthly classes with SMS, and then return to the community to share what they've learned with their fellow farmers. One of the biggest differences the program has made is promoting the use of organic fertilization on a regular schedule, using pulp from the wet mill and cow manure. The practices bring significantly higher yields—in some cases tripling production—and improve quality across the board. Additionally in Kenya, all new coffee seedling varieties are approved and provided by the Kenyan Coffee Board. Currently they are heavily invested in a new variety called Batian. Featuring rustand borer-resistance characteristics combined with good quality and flavor, the variety is being promoted to farmers across the country. Each farmer must pay approximately one percent of each sale to the coffee board to support its efforts and promote research. After a visit to the nearby Highlands Coffee Company dry mill, the tour hit the road again. This time the destination was Chania www.baristamagazine.com 39

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