Kenya Nyeri Hill Estate
Nyeri Hill farm lies just 3 km from the famous coffee town of Nyeri, in the heart of Nyeri County. The large estate is run and managed by the Catholic Arch Diocese of Nyeri and is one of the earliest and largest coffee farms in Kenya.
Entangled throughout the estate, rivers Chania and Muringato flow freely through the lush lands, with stunning valleys filled with natural vegetation. Exotic and indigenous species have been planted throughout the coffee fields. Management teams have planted Bermuda Blue Grass and leguminous trees such as Albizia, Grevillea, Acacia and Sebania bushes to prevent soil erosion. Biodiversity and environmental preservation are of utmost importance here. Nearly 250 hectares are being prepared for reforestation efforts to provide firewood to nearby tea factories and help maintain soil health.
Since 1934, the farm has had its own wet and dry mills – originally used by the Consolata Fathers to mill their own coffee and export it back to Turin, their birthplace in Italy. The pristine wet mill is still very operational and has been heavily maintained and modernised over the years.
During the harvest, a great deal of effort goes into ensuring that quality is maintained. The farm hires an additional 2,000 people at the peak of the harvest, all of whom are well–trained in quality harvesting methods. Only the ripest cherries are picked at each pass. These are delivered on the same day to the ‘factory’, as Kenyan washing stations/wet mills are called, sorted to remove any damaged or underripe cherries, and pulped using the farm’s 8 disk pulper. The farm has a milling capacity of 10 tonnes per day, but during the peak of the season, they still have to operate a 24-hour day. The pulped coffee is next fermented for between 6 and 48 hours before being fully washed to remove all the remaining mucilage.
After the coffee is washed is delivered to rest under circulating, clean water in the factory’s soaking tanks for around 24 hours. Once soaked and clean, the parchment is graded through channels and then delivered to pre-drying tables for around two hours. Here it will be sorted, again, as it loses excess surface moisture before it is delivered to the main drying beds. Usually, drying times are around 7 to 14 days until the coffee reaches the optimal humidity of 10.5 to 11%. Coffee is turned and sorted every two hours or so and is covered during the hottest part of the day to prevent splitting and to promote even drying.