Kiangundo AB

  • Country
  • Region
    Central Kenya
  • County
    Nyeri County
  • Factory
  • Farmers' Cooperative Society
    Kiama FCS
  • Factory Manager
    Jackson Mahu Kooro
  • Factory Elevation
    1,800 meters above sea level
  • Farmers
    615 smallholder producers
  • Average Farm Elevation
    1,750-1,850 meters above sea level
  • Average Farm Size
    0.5 Hectares
  • Variety
    SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, Batian
  • Coffee Grade
  • Processing
  • Relationship Length
    Since 2019

Rich and sweet, with golden syrup, peach and green apple. Full bodied and juicy, balanced by black tea and dark chocolate.

Kiangundo is a washing station – or factory, as they are called in Kenya – located in Nyeri County in the Karatina Municipality. Established in 1968, it is one of four active washing stations – along with its sisters Gachuiro, Ichuga and Kiamaina – owned by the Kiama Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Society (FCS). Kiama is made up of over 2,500 producers who farm in Kenya’s central highlands.

Kiangundo receives coffee cherries from 615 of the cooperative’s members (363 male, 252 female) who grow coffee trees on nearby farms, located between 1,700-1,900 meters above sea level. Manager Jackson Mahu Kooro oversees the collection and careful processing of the coffee cherries following his recent promotion to factory manager, after 17 years as as Kiangundo’s machine operator. Besides Jackson, Kiangundo employs five permanent staff members and an additional ten workers during the season. The coffee cherry is processed by a four-disc pulper, before being dried and sorted on the factory’s 51 raised tables.

In 2020, the cooperative upgraded to digital scales, providing farmers and clerks with better accountability when coffee cherry is delivered. The factory is also in the process of completing their Rainforest Alliance certification, as part of Kiama’s commitment to social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Kiangundo sits at 1,800m above sea level and is located near the Ragati river. Fresh, clean water is pumped from Ragati to process coffee, contributing to its exceptional quality. The area surrounding the river is an 8,000-hectare conservancy made up of montane forest and marshes that are home to a myriad of native wildlife, including elephant, buffalo and leopard.


Kiama FCS was formed in 2005 when two existing cooperatives merged into one. Most of their 2,500 farmer members inherited their farms from their parents who were members of those cooperatives. Kiama now owns four washing stations in Nyeri (Gachuiro, Kiangundo, Ichuga and Kiamaina), along with a cherry collection point, Inwagi. Kiama FCS supports its farmer members by offering pre-harvest financing, allowing them to plan and invest in the upcoming crop. They also buy inputs in bulk and distribute them to members at a lower cost than otherwise possible.

Kiama has six members on its board, which is currently overseen by Chairman Charles Ndamburi Nguve and Vice Chairperson Esther Nyakiba Muriuku. Board members are re-elected every three years (to avoid corruption), must be active farmers and must attend monthly trainings. The cooperative employs 24 permanent staff members, who work out of their office in the town of Baricho, some 130km north of Nairobi.

Kiama FCS employ Sucastainability as their marketing agent. Chairman Nguye values Sucastainability’s services for their on the ground approach to improving productivity and quality through training and education programs. Beyond this, Sucastainability connects Kiama FCS to specialty focused buyers (like MCM) that will pay high premiums for exceptional quality. Head here to learn more about Sucastainability’s work in Kenya.



Nyeri County is part of Kenya’s former Central Province, which was dissolved in 2013. The area includes Murang’a, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Kiambu and Nyandarua Counties, and is traditionally the homeland of people of Kikiyu ethnicity. The central highlands of Kenya are considered to be one of the wealthiest areas of the country, due to the incredibly fertile land, geographical proximity to the capital, Nairobi, and close integration with the country’s colonial administration before Kenya gained independence in 1962. This integration afforded the communities of Central Kenya with opportunities for education, business and political prowess, despite the various injustices of the colonial government. The Kikiyu people have a long and proud history of agriculture and the region is farmed intensively, with coffee, tea and dairy being the most important modern crops.

The coffees in this lot are grown on the foothills of the extinct volcano, Mt Kenya, in an area defined by its bright red, nutrient-rich, volcanic soil, high elevations and cool climate, all of which contribute to the outstanding quality of coffees produced here. Most farmers in Nyeri are smallholder cooperative members – with farm size averaging just half a hectare – and grow coffee as a cash crop alongside food crops like banana, maize, macadamia, avocados and vegetables. Tea and dairy are also important sources of income for the producers.

Many of the producers in the region are second-generation landholders, whose parents would have purchased and planted the land. Most coffee farms in Nyeri were planted in the 1950s, after agricultural reform allowed for small Kenyan farmers to produce cash crops on their family farms (instead of only on large, British owned estates). At that time, it was recommended to plant SL-28 and SL-34, which remain the predominant varieties found in the area. Both cultivars have Bourbon and Moka heritage and are named after the laboratory that promoted their wider distribution in Kenya during the early 20th Century: Scott Laboratories. This lot also contains a small percentage of the hybrid varieties Ruiru 11 and Batian, which were cultivated as more robust varieties, with better resistance to Coffee Berry Disease and Coffee Leaf Rust. Both varieties have been backcrossed with SL-28 and SL-34 to achieve a high cup quality.


Kenya uses a grading system for all its exportable coffee lots. The grading system is based on the size and assumed quality of the bean. A coffee’s grade is directly correlated with the price it attracts at auction or through direct trade.


This coffee is AB grade. This grade is easily defined by size (in this case, AB means that the beans are screen size 15 and above) and to a certain extent, quality. While it is assumed that AA lots represent the highest quality, we have often found AB and PB lots to be as good, if not better.


All the coffee cherry is hand-picked and delivered on the same day to the washing station, where it undergoes meticulous sorting. This is also done by hand and is overseen by a ‘cherry clerk’ who ensures any unripe and damaged cherries are removed. The ripe cherry is then digitally weighed and recorded, and the farmer receives a receipt of delivery.

The coffee is then placed in a receiving tank and pulped using a four-disc pulping machine to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that protects the green coffee bean. After being pulped, the coffee is sorted by weight using water, with the highest quality and densest beans being separated out from the lighter, lower-quality beans.

The coffee is then dry fermented for 20–24 hours, to break down the sugars and remove the mucilage (sticky fruit covering) from the outside of the beans. Whilst the coffee is fermenting it is checked intermittently and when it is ready it is rinsed and removed from the tanks and placed in a washing channel.

The parchment-covered coffee is then washed with fresh water from the nearby Ragati River and sent through water channels for grading by weight. The heavier coffee, which sinks, is considered the higher quality, sweeter coffee, and any lighter density or lower grade coffee beans are removed. The beans are then sent to soaking tanks where they sit underwater for a further 48 hours. This process increases the proteins and amino acids, which in turn heightens the complexity of the acidity.

After soaking, the coffee is pumped onto deep drying beds where they drain for 1-2 hours, before being transferred to raised drying tables (also known as African beds). As they dry the parchment is turned constantly to ensure even drying, and so that any defective beans can be identified removed. Time on the drying tables depends on the weather, ambient temperature and processing volume: taking anywhere from one to three weeks to get to the target moisture of 11–12%. After drying the coffee is moved to conditioning beds, where it rests in parchment for about a month. This resting period helps to stabilise water activity and contributes to long-lasting quality and vibrancy in the cup.

Once the coffee is ready it is transported to Kahawa Bora Mill (“good coffee mill”) to be dry milled and prepared for shipping. Kahawa Bora is located in Thika, about 1hrs drive from Nairobi.



Coffees from Nyeri are renowned for being complex, bursting with blackcurrant and blackberries. This coffee has great intensity and character, with rich stone fruit and golden syrup sweetness, balanced by black tea.