Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meru Kenya Coffee Research Center

Every year I make a trip to Origin. As a Specialty Coffee Roaster you need to know what's going on in the field, the coffee field.

And it was December 26th of 2012 i was looking at this 'Equator' sign at the outskirts of Meru, a small city above Mount Kenya. Next to it you may spot the sign for the Coffee Research Foundation Mariene Sub-Station.

At this Center they offer 9 different services to the local farmers, and mean while experiment a lot with different varieties.

Most important are the soil, leaf, coffee beans, fertilizer and pesticide analyses.
But besides of that they also sell beans.
KES 4000 for a kilo of Batian and Riuri11.
KES 1000 for SL 28,34 and K7.
(100 KES is appr. €1)

At first I was shocked they priced the Riuri11 so high, but this variety seemed to be the 'specialty of the house'. In Riuri, 20 km north of Nairobi, they have their head quarters, and this maybe inspired them to push it.
The recent Riuri 11 cultivar is a dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant strain  but we are not so fond of this evolution. Most top class Kenyan coffees are from the SL28 and 34, or a cross of both. Also latest Batian harvest seems to show a lot of potential, but not so with the Riuri11, which has a 8% robusta gene inside!
For the moment it has only 3 or 4% of the total harvest.
The Batian even less.

Read this very interesting article about it : click it.

Daniel, who's working at the Lewa Wild Park, helped me and my friend Gerard with translating the guide from the Center.

The guide showed us their activities and we also had a look at the drying beds (with the beans still in parchment and covered because of boxing day), washing station, coffee nursery and offices.

Very impressing were a couple of Uganda Robusta trees they had. 3 very tall trees, almost 8 meters high!

And one acre showed the Riuri11 mother stock.

Small parts of the plants were cut out - with 2 leaves for moisture - and attached to the stam of the other tree, just with tape. A funny looking practice, but apparently very effective.

Enjoy the pictures and don't hesitate to drop by for a visit when you are around the area.

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