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Yellow Diamond Estate

Western Rift Valley, Kenya
Partner since: 2023 Traceable to: Single Estate

Cherries are collected and stored in water where floaters are removed and cherries are kept cool until pulping, after which parchment is placed immediately on raised beds where they are hand picked, rotated and covered during the hottest part of the day over a 10-18 day drying period.

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Community Context

Habil Olakes moved his family out to Western Kenya to get away from the city, and back to his roots. They started farming corn and chickens, flowers and honey. They kept the latter two, but turned their focus to producing coffee after hearing the enthusiasm of a friend and neighbor of theirs – Stephen Nendela of Muinami Estate. Together they started learning about coffee, hiring top agronomists and improving thier processing. Yellow Diamond is reference to something that is rare and valuable – to Habil, that is family, land, and what the two can produced together.

Country Context

Kenya is an enigma. It occupies a top spot in specialty – Kenyan top lots are always amongst the most expensive of any harvest. But yet it’s a country where coffee production is dropping year over year. Kenya is a place where traceability is given, but knowing what you want and how to get it are two different things. Rarely do we find partners more capable, and loyalties more difficult to navigate than we do in Kenya. For all the aforementioned reasons, competition in Kenya is fierce, making prized coffees feel like even more of a success.

However, no matter how formally the industry is structured, coffee still remains a system of people. And in a country where farmers own their own cherry production, there is additional power to connecting with coffee’s most important stakeholder. Farmers can, for example, point you to the best collections from every harvest, or delay sending their lots to auction to give you another week to sample. At request they can change the way they separate lots, bringing new products to market in a year that would take other countries nearly a decade to do.

But experimentation is not the name of the game. With washed coffees working so well, you won’t find many a manager willing to mess around with different fermentations, flotation, drying times or with certifications like organic.

The experiment instead is that of business model. How do cooperatives normalize earnings to keep their members engaged in coffee? How do we take away red tape to encourage more farmers to plant more coffee, as opposed to corn or dairy? How can small estates split off and succeed under their own pulping license? Is it better to sell through auction or directly to an international buyer – can you afford to cut out your marketing agent? Once you speak to these problems you are speaking the language of coffee in Kenya – this is a country that already knows how to coffee.