Tegu is a rather big deal in terms of Kenyan coffee. The Factory is award winning for quality. The sample of this coffee arrived in great shape. The green, un-roasted beans, looked promising. When, Byron our Coffee Director, put it through the sample roaster, lemon-bar aromas were outstanding. On a table of great Kenyan coffees the Tegu stood out above the rest. We are proud to offer this coffee for the next few months. Buy it while you can.
Kenya is split between three different altitude regions. Low, Medium and High. It is only the Medium altitude that has two crops in one year. The High altitude has only one crop and it is often called the main crop because that is when the Medium and High zones harvest coffee. This coffee comes from the High zone and has been well protected by vacuum sealed packaging.
To understand why Kenyan coffee is so expensive one must first understand how the coffee gets from the tree to the roaster. Start with the coffee farms, there are two categories: Estates which are 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) or larger or Small Holders which have between 50 coffee trees and a few thousand. A small holder is not allowed to mill their own coffee, by law. They must deliver their coffee at cherry to a mill where it will be sorted for quality and the farmer is paid on the spot. Estates are allowed to mill their own coffee.
Milling coffee involves taking ripe coffee berries (called cherries) and pealing them in a machine. Then the pealed coffee is called mucilage coffee. The bean and fruit are left intact in mucilage coffee. Natural fermentation occurs over a period of about 12-72 hours. The processed sugars are washed off with clean water and this stops the fermentation. After this stage, the coffee is usually sorted in a washing channel and then soaked for 24 hours. Finally the pristine coffee is taken from the last tank to the drying beds. At this drying stage the coffee is called parchment coffee. The parchment is usually categorized as P1, P2 and P3. P1 being the highest grade coffee that typically yeilds the AA and AB grades. By the way AA and AB are only sizes. AA is bigger and AB is slightly smaller. Truth be told some Kenya AB’s taste better than the AA lots because the smaller sizes add more complexity to the cup. This Tegu is one of those. . . it is an AB.
Once the coffee is fully dried, usually in the sun in Kenya, it must be sold. At this point a marketing agent helps the co-op or estate to mill the coffee and bring it to auction. The marketing agent plays a major and important role in the auction. They often mill the coffee, send it to a certified warehouse, they handle the money, and they are the farmer advocate.
Auctions happen on Tuesdays. When there is lots of coffee, like now, the Auction happens every Tuesday. Buyers pay top dollar for Kenyan coffees because they are buying a product that is limited and they had one week to taste the product. Lots in the auction range from 3 to 150 bags. So when a great coffee goes up for bid, all the major buyers are keen to push their red button and snag a winner.
This coffee is no exception.