KENYA, RUCHU PEABERRY
Ruchu Gacharage FCS has a long history of coffee growing; they created the society in 1961 that date before Kenyan Independence. The Coop manage at the moment five factories: Mukangu, Ruona, Gacharage, Kamichee and Ruchu. In total the cooperative is formed by 3,700 small holders coffee growers.
The Ruchu factory is in particularly accessible location, not too far from town of Kandara and right next to the Ruchu River. The Ruchu river waters are channelled into the factory for pulping and washing the coffee. The factory itself is not as big as the others that contitute the Cooperative, but it is sufficient to serve the surrounding community, circa six hundred farmers are delivering cherries during the harvest Currently the mill processes around 160 metric tonnes of coffee cherry per year. Processing at the Ruchu wet mill adheres to stringent quality-driven methods. Farmers are selectively handpicking coffee cherries from there trees and are deliver those to the mill the same day, where they get meticulously sorted through floatation tanks as first step.
Factory employees oversee the process and any underripe or damaged cherries will not be accepted by the “Cherry Clerk”, who keeps records of how much cherries each farmer delivers, the weight registered is taken after the floatation tank. The producer will than have to wait for the lot to be sold to than claim the full payment for his contribution to the season production. At this point the book kept by the “Cherry Clerk” is coming to fruition identify exactly how much coffee each individual producer has been contributing to.
After being weighed and logged in, the weight of the delivery and the farmer’s identification are recorded in the Cherry Clerk’s register and the cherries are introduced into the hopper to be pulped. Pulping will only begin when a sufficient quantity of cherries has been received. After pulping the cherries are placed in one of the many tiled fermentation tanks in the factory, where is left to ferment in a time-range that can span from 12 to 48 hours depending on the ambient condition during that particular period. Subsequently the parchment is fully washed to remove all traces of mucilage, at the same time the coffee is than passed through a disc sorter where is graded. The coffee will then either be delivered to dry on the factory’s raised drying beds or will be soaked under circulating water for up to twenty four hours, that depends as often during the peak of the season not always there is space available on the beds directly after grading due to the volumes of cherries that can be delivered every single day that might create some bottlenecks during the drying phase. The parchment is dried slowly under shade over the course of two to three weeks, during which time it will be turned regularly.
Wastewater from the wet milling process is managed through the use of soaking pits. The water used for processing the cherry will spend time in the pits to insure that the nutrient rich water created during depulping will not be returned to the nearby water source without proper treatment. This additional step will cut down the risk of contamination and after adequate time for reabsorption the water will be recirculated.