Know your Coffee: Chania & Oreti, Harries Estates, Kenya.

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Know your Coffee: Chania & Oreti, Harries Estates, Kenya.

Coffee Insurrection
Published by Tanya in Coffee Beans · 18 February 2021
Tags: Coffeechaniaoretiharriesestateskenya
In the central highlands of Kenya lies the coffee growing region of Kiambu, of which Thika is a subregion.
 
We are at the foothills of the Aberdare ridge and the soils are red and volcanic, and rich in organic matter.
 
 
Among some large coffee estates and much more small holders and their cooperative, lie the two sister estates of Chania and Oreti, both medium size, both managed by Boyce Harries.
 
 
Both estates border the Chania River, and are surrounded by 200 acres of indigenous plants and forest that encourage the birdlife and the wildlife.
 
 
The weather is warm and temperate, with two distinct rainfall seasons (and a lot of rain even in the rest of the year) and a daily temperature of 22 C to 28 C that produce two harvest seasons: the main crop between October and December and the early crop between May and July.
 
 
The harvesting is typical of the specialty coffee: only by hand and only the red ripe cherries. The processing is mostly “wet”, or “washed” with some really interesting exceptions.
 
 
There are 40 people as permanent labour force, but in the busiest periods up to 300 people are hired. Plus, Bryce Harries and his company are involved in supporting local projects such as education of underprivileged kids and helping the surrounding area to flourish.
 
 
After all, the involvement of the Harries in this area is ancient history. Allen Harries arrived in Kenya from South Africa in 1904 and established the Karamani Estate.
 
His son Ivan join him a couple of years later, and in 1926 they moved to Chania Estate.
 
20 years later Ivan’s son Peter joined his father after completing his studies in New Zealand: together with his wife Rowena, a “Kiwi”, he bought a piece of land 5 miles above Chania on the same ridge running down from the Aberdeen mountains.
 
They named it “Oreti” Estate, from a Maori word that means “a place of danger and raw beauty”.
 
In the beginning the estates hosted various crops but since Peter inherited both estates in the late ‘50s coffee became the main focus; and it continued this way this way for a couple of generations, until recent days when Bryce took over the running of bothers estates, with a focus toward the Specialty Coffee World.
 
 
Today, Chania Estate is made by 180 acres, while the Oreti Estate is much smaller, just 90 acres.
 
With both the estates, Bryce lately tried something quite new (in Kenya): having a natural processed coffee.
 
 
This is quite hard and challenging, because Kenya has not enough dry season after harvesting time, and usually the harvesting time is itself a rainy time.
 
To have a natural coffee, to dry the full cherry prior to depulp it, it requires 3 to 6 weeks in which the cherries lie in patios or raised bed in the sun, and this is not easy.
 
Plus, natural processing in Kenya requires also a change in the way of thinking of everyone involved in the coffee industry, but lately Bryce was able to finally obtain two different kind of natural coffees (both Chania and Oreti).
 
 
Currently, you can find Oreti (both natural and washed) roasted by different roasters around the globe, the following are just a (nice) bunch of them.
 
 
U.S.A.
   
Europe
   
Australia
   
 
Enjoy!


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