The Kamwangi factory is situated in the Gichugu division of the Kirinyaga district of Central Province. The nearest town is Ngairiama and Kamwangi factory is affiliated to the Ngairiama FCS cooperative along with the Kainamui factory. There are nearly 1000 members in this cooperative who each have around 250 coffee trees growing alongside maize, banana trees, macadamia trees and beans. The cooperative is dedicated to improving the quality of life for its members by increasing the coffee production and also improving the quality of the coffee processed. The cooperative is Rainforest Alliance certified which has led to better access to training along with greater transparency for the members. There has also been a credit system developed to assist with pre-financing for the cooperative members who can use it to purchase farm inputs or to pay school fees.
The coffee is handpicked by the smallholder members and delivered to Kamwangi where it is pulped. This initially separates the dense beans from the immature ‘mbuni’s (floaters) using water floatation which means the denser beans will sink and be sent through channels to the fermentation tank.
This first stage of fermentation will last for around 24 hours, after which the beans are washed and sent to the secondary fermentation tank for another 12-24 hours. Once the fermentation process is completed, the beans enter the washing channels where floaters are separated further and the dense beans are cleaned of mucilage. The washed beans will then enter soaking tanks where they can sit under clean water for as long as another 24 hours.
The beans are then transferred to the initial drying tables where they are laid in a thin layer to allow around 50% of the moisture to be quickly removed. This first stage of drying can last around 6 hours before the beans are gathered and laid in thicker layers for the remaining 5-10 days of the drying period.