We have good and bad news. I’ll get the bad out of the way. We are having to say goodbye to the Rwandan coffee beans. Consequently, we are at the last ten pounds of this great coffee and will have the last bags in the shop until they are all gone. It was great having this regional coffee in our hands. As a staff and community favorite, we will miss this coffee.
Relationship with the Coffee Farmer
For the next batch of beans we have achieved our quest in making a connection with the coffee grower. This has always been our intention to be able to put a face on what we serve. Being fairly new in the industry of roasting, this can be a major obstacle. As micro roasters, we purchase small quantities of green beans. In the grand scheme of things, we depend upon a distributor to have all the relationships to the growers.
Even though we may never know how these grower / distributor relationships transpire, from our earliest attendance at a Specialty Coffee Association conference, we heard echoes that the coffee growers were not being fairly compensated for all of their efforts. Plainly stated, we heard that distributors were taking advantage of the growers. In hearing that concern and understanding that there has always been a picture of poverty associated with growers, in good conscience we wanted to be able ensure that we were fair in our compensation to the growers. As we set out on this track, we have always wanted to be able to connect the coffee beans with a farmer
Stephen Nendela, Kenyan Coffee Farmer, Owner of Muinami Coffee Estate
Finally, we have made this leap. Our trip to the Specialty Coffee Association National Conference in Portland, Oregon this past April gave us that opportunity. There we had the opportunity to meet Stephen Nendela. Steven’s farm, Muinami Estate, is in Kenya, Africa. Muinami Coffee Estate is a medium-sized estate that represents the new generation of coffee growers.
Back to Farming
In 2015, Stephen Nendela moved back into his childhood home to live with his mother on a six acre plot near Eldoret. He converted their sugar cane production to coffee—selling their small production through direct export channels as a microlot.
On the heels of this success, Stephen bought a second farm—17 acres at 1900 MASL closer to the town of Kitale—which had been a coffee farm in the 1970s, but had gone mostly fallow until Stephen took over care of the land. The area where the farm is located is called Cherengany Hills—part of the Mt. Elgon mountain range, but with a particularly cold micro-climate. Stephen and his wife Lilian named the farm Nawiri, which means prosperity, but everyone calls it ‘Muinami’ which is Stephen’s last name, and which means ‘Bent’ or ‘those who work’ in Kikuyu.
The farm is separated into seven terraced blocks, each with a different varietal and year of planting. There is one acre of agroforestry. This is the first place visitors are brought, each of whom is asked to plant a tree instead of signing a guestbook. Visiting crested cranes take up seasonal homes here. Hives of bees are cultivated in the shade of Acacia trees. The mill uses minimal water by capturing rainwater into a retention pit. An entire block on the farm is dedicated to agroforestry where soil is amended with compost made of neighbors’ corn husks, coffee cherry pulp, manure, and lime. These ingredients are mulched up to a fertilizer and spread around each coffee tree.
Fair Employment Practices
At Muinami, workers are provided with food and lodging, and seem to be at a good standard. Everything has been newly built, and safety is a priority with handwashing stations, lunch area, a medical station, etc. Amongst workers, the ratio of women to men never falls below 5-to-1
Support Our Growers
With the introduction of this wonderful coffee, we hope that you will appreciate the efforts employed by Stephen, his family, and all of the workers on the farm that craft this crop for our pleasure. By acknowledging that this work is hard, with extreme appreciation of the effort, and intention in showing gratitude, we ask that you give them a good Google rating for their coffee. This will help them build their agritourism part of their business. Thank you for your support.
Beans & Butter Coffeehouse