Oreti AA Microlot Kenya
Cup Profile: Aromas of sweet spices, hazelnut and rhubarb. Fruity with notes of blackberry, myrtille and blackcurrant. Sweet with an elegant body
Farm – Oreti Estate
Owner – Boyce Harris
Altitude – 1600 m
Region – Thika, Central Province
Process – Kenyan Washed
Variety – SL 14/28/34
The Oreti Estate farm has been owned by the Harries family for several generations. It is one of the last two remaining medium-sized farms in Kenya and is located on deep volcanic red soils. This small 35-hectare farm (which is in fact a large farm by Kenyan standards) was named after New Zealand’s Oreti Beach, where Boyce’s grandfather met his grandmother for the first time. Peter Harries decided to plant 17 hectares of SL14 alongside the SL28 in 1961. Although particularly susceptible to disease, the family has kept this variety because it’s of a higher quality than SL28.
The Harries family also owns the Chania farm, and 80 hectares of indigenous forests planted to encourage biodiversity currently cover the two farms combined.
Today, over 50% of the Chania and Oreti farms are planted with Red Bourbon. The rest is a mix of Ruiru 11 (resistant variety), K7 (rust resistant), SL28 (susceptible to disease but known for its cup quality) and the new Batian variety. The farms have 40 full-time staff, but employ up to 300 people during harvests to select and prepare the coffees. The farm has opened its own nursery school to take care of its employees’ children.
All the coffee is picked entirely by hand and processed on site. Most are washed, but Boyce also produces natural and honey-processed coffees as well as microlots of specific varieties.
The Kenyan fully-washed process is a special process that involves double fermentation. After de-pulping, the cherries dry ferment in vats for 8 to 12 days. They are then washed and dry fermented a second time in vats for 5 hours. After this double fermentation, the cherries are washed again then immersed in water to remove all the mucilage overnight. The next morning, the cherries are spread in a thin layer on drying tables (no more than 2 or 3 cherries deep) and left to air for about 4 hours in order to reduce the cherry moisture content to 55%. The cherries are then placed on African beds for 2 weeks to reach 10 to 12% humidity.
The Harries family has been living in Kenya, in the town of Thika (Central Province), since 1904. It owns two plantations there: Chania and Oreti. These two farms are the last remaining medium-sized farms in Kenya and are currently owned by Boyce Harries, who belongs to the family’s 5th generation of coffee producers.
The Harries family grows varieties that are quite unusual for Kenya, including SL14 and Red Bourbon. It is the last to still produce the SL14 variety, which was the first “SL” to be cultivated in Kenya. SL14 is particularly weak, so it has been gradually replaced in Kenya with the SL28 and SL34 varieties, which are more climate hardy and produce higher yields.