The Kiungu washing station, or factory as it’s called locally, is located near the town of Embu on the fertile slopes of Mt Kenya, 1,600 metres above sea level. The factory was founded in 1969 and now works with 1,400 smallholder coffee farmers from nearby villages.
This part of Kenya boasts fantastic coffee-producing conditions, with rich, red volcanic soil, high altitudes and a mild climate. Farms in the region are very small: on average, producers own between 130 and 200 coffee trees, which grow alongside other crops, such as tea, passionfruit and flowers.
At harvest time, the farmers hand-pick their ripe cherries and deliver them to the factory, where they are weighed and then mechanically pulped. The coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars before it is cleaned and soaked for 24 hours. Finally, the beans are spread out to dry on raised tables and regularly turned over the drying period, which lasts between 7 and 15 days.