Kenya Thikagiki OT-15
Kenya has a pretty advanced coffee system. Two avenues are used to sell and export most coffee: the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (central auction system) and a direct-sale system with a marketer. Cooperatives tend to lean towards the first and use the auction system to sell their coffees based on quality. You must be a licensed marketer to buy coffee through the competitive auction system by bidding on coffees. Auctions are held every Tuesday with samples of the coffees going out to the marketers and cuppers the week prior. This way you can cup the outturns for the week and decide which coffees you wish to bid on. An outturn refers to the week of wet milling and production of coffee. You’ll see a number next to all our Kenya lots which describes which outturn it was. We tend to like outturns between 14-21, which are in the middle to the end of harvest time and usually have the most nutrient dense and best-tasting coffees.
This year coffee production was down about 25% in Kenya. This means the auction system for the coffees that cupped higher reached almost unprecedented levels. While this does mean our Kenyas will be a bit more expensive this year, it also meant less competition for us. And we were able to purchase quite a few more lots than we normally do. This is our personal best year of sourcing in Kenya. We are really excited to release some special lots all year long.
In the Kenya process, first the cherries are sorted, and underripe/overripe cherries are removed. Once the sorting is finished the coffee is then de-pulped. This is done by squeezing the cherry through a screen and removing the fruit and skin from the bean. The coffee is then left to ferment in white ceramic tiled tanks for 24 hours. Next, the coffee is stirred for a short amount of time and left to ferment for another 24 hours. After two days of dry fermentation, the coffee is washed with fresh water, removing the sticky mucilage attached to the beans that is loosened by bacteria during the fermentation. It’s then soaked in water to ferment overnight slightly. The coffee goes through sorting and density channels which separates the lots, and then it is taken to raised beds to dry. Once it reaches 11.5-12% moisture content, the coffee is brought to conditioning bins to rest until it goes to the dry mill.
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
Kenya Thikagiki OT-15
This was our first time visiting Tropical (Tropical Farm Management Kenya), a cupping lab located in central Nairobi. They were incredibly kind and gracious as we showed up with short notice and they ran three rounds of cuppings to taste, each with 30 coffees. We purchased twenty-seven 60 kilo bags of this lot at $6.02 per pound. We cupped the coffee as an 88. Tropical partners with InterAmerican Coffee for logistics to the US. InterAmerican's team were incredibly responsive and quick on the logistics front (thanks Maddie!). Typically our Kenya auction coffees arrive in late July, so we were excited to get this at the beginning of June.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.19/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we purchased this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.