Kenya coffee of the month

Kenya Ainabtany AB - Coffee of the month

This fantastic coffee was imported to the UK by Omwani Coffee. The kindly provided the following information:

Lot 20 work with a group of coffee producers from Kericho and Bomet counties in the southern part of the Rift Valley in Kenya. They are passionate about farming and have goals to produce delicious coffee that showcases the beauty of their region.

Co-founder Sidney Kibet used to work in Rwanda, often running surveys of the coffee farmers there, who he soon became close with. In 2019, Sidney sold a container of Rwandan coffee to some friends in Amsterdam, an experience in coffee exporting that would soon come in handy when he decided to try exporting the coffee of his Kenyan friends. Sidney spends a lot of time visiting the farmers Lot 20 work with in order to maintain good relationships, as well as keeping up to date with each farmers situation and the state of their farm.

Lot 20 work with producers they know well, and are careful not to disrupt the system too much. They only buy a portion of the cherries produced by each farmer, and are understanding of the fact that farmers will want to sell to other businesses/exporters.

Sourcing transparently from Kenya can be a challenge on a good day and near impossible on a bad one, for reasons that are only obvious to any one who has tried buying transparently traded coffee from the country. Lot 20, however, is trying something new. They are from Kenya, their coffee is grown in Kenya, processed Kenya, exported by Kenyans. And Lot 20 has the receipts to prove it.

All Lot 20 coffees have limited releases since they are sourced from small micro-lots deemed to be exceptional examples of farming innovation that create unique flavour experiences.

Kericho County and Kericho Coffee

Kericho county has a long history of Coffee. In fact, the Kipkelion and Fort Tenan regions actually boast some of the first coffee farms in Kenya, which were originally planted by foreign settlers.

Despite this, Kericho county (and by extension Bomet) are not as known for producing coffee as central Kenya. This is partially due to the fact that central Kenya’s coffee gets sold in bulk by large exporters through the national auctioning system, and also because the farmers from Kericho and Bomet counties generally work within under-managed cooperatives that coffee dealers like to take advantage of for cheap prices.

Lot 20’s work in the region has been to try and organise Kericho and Bomet farmers into properly functioning entities that process and sell coffee on their own, without the assistance of middle men or the auction system.

Pulping Stations

Lot 20 has two pulping stations: One in Kericho East, Fort Tenan, which has a capacity of 15 tonnes per season, and one in Kericho West, Cheribo which is currently under construction.

Ainabtany Dry Mill

The core of Lot 20 is the dry milling (hulling) factory, which contains their rice huller turned coffee huller which they re-engineered and adapted to hull both washed coffee parchment as well as naturally processed coffee.

The Coffee Nursery

Coffee farming is relatively new in the Sossiot region of West Kericho. In an effort to support the local community and encourage coffee cultivation as a source of income, Lot 20 has established a nursery alongside their mill in Sossiot.

Their goal here is to donate 50,000 plants to the local community, in the hopes that this will create the opportunity for locals to grow and sell their own crop. Likewise, Lot 20’s presence in the community already generates jobs in areas adjacent to coffee farming, such as the many seasonal jobs in coffee picking that provide secondary incomes to local families.

By providing free seedlings Lot 20 are aiming to encourage a younger generation of coffee farmers who are more open to breaking old notions associated with coffee framing, so that they see it as a respectable and sustainable form of employment. What’s more, Lot 20 will be able to keep a better record of any newly established coffee producers. One of their ongoing challenges at the moment is identifying the varietals cultivated on long standing farms.

In 2025 Lot 20 expect to see the first lot produced from these seedlings, and in the future they want to invest in a larger range of varietals that are better adjusted to the problems posed by climate change.

With the support of the Kericho county government, Lot 20 is also training extension service officers to train farmers in various aspects of coffee farming.

Water Resources

Water is an essential element of coffee production, especially for the washed coffee Kenya is well known for pioneering and continuing to develop upon. A core value of Ainabtany and Lot 20 is to create water resources for both processing and community use within all their locations.

In Fort Tenan they have made great strides to harvest and conserve water from the local spring by bringing in workers to build and maintain a weir (a low damn that controls water levels) across the stream. This has increased the available volume of water to a few million litres, which is able to sustain operations at the mill and coffee nursery while also being easily accessible to the local community.

In Cheribo, Lot 20 have just gained a permit (after many months of government bureaucracy) to drill a well/borehole in to the earth for a new pulping operation, the development of which is ongoing.

Community Outreach, Education and Financial Literacy Education

One of Lot 20’s founding principles is that all the people working with them are fairly paid for their produce and labour. So far Lot 20 have been able to pay up to KSh 85 per kilo of cherry, which translates to about 680 shillings per kilo of green coffee (based on 2022 average out-turn of 8:1; i.e 8 kilos of cherry to 1 kilo of green coffee).

They have also partnered with a local branch of NCBA in Kericho to bring financial literacy to the farmers and partners of Lot 20.

With help from NCBA, Lot 20 are now providing lessons in financial literacy for the workers that would like to participate. They have also been able to get these same workers access high calibre banking services through the bank and NCBA bank accounts with support for mobile banking services. Mobile services will be particularly useful for generating an audit trail that ensures the farmers are definitely paid the correct amounts for their coffee.

Lot 20 and Ainabtany have also been pushing for digitisation of production records, as with this data the bank will be able to analyse the financial standing of the participating workers, a necessity when applying for affordable loans.

A major motivation for Lot 20 to invest in financial education is to ensure that in future seasons their farmers and partners will be able to access small loans for farm inputs as well as cover labour costs for the farms.

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