Last November 2016, after passing my SCA Green Coffee Professional, I asked Henry Wilson, of Perfect Daily Grind to put me in contact with coffee people at origin. He put me in contact with Sophie Mukua from the Fair Trade Organisation of Kenya (FTOK), a NGO who supports small holders farmers and small to medium size co-ops.
As soon Sophie talked to me about her deep desire to bring SCA education to Kenyan farmers in order to improve their yield at the lowest cost as possible for the farmers, I just loved the idea.
We had two problems, who will fond for the farmers educations, and Sophie and her organisation did have neither the finance to pay for the material nor my plane ticket to Nairobi. However, the project is so interesting, I decided to take the risk, I paid for my plane ticket and brought my own material to Kenya.
Once there, I met the farmers, the co-ops owners I knew this project can work, but this will demand a lot of our effort.
So I started planning on paper Kenyan SCA Barista Camps for students who wants to learn at origin, with advise from Andrej Godina from the Umami Camp. These camps will fund the education for the farmers and co-cop managers / owners.
Meanwhile, Sophie Mukua and her right arm, Benjamin Kiarii, who is the agronomist of FTOK, were looking for large equipment in Nairobi for our future SCA school.
Unfortunately, as my partner was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I had to go back to London urgently, and the all operation stopped at once. Sadly, my partner passed away.
Sophie Mukua, husband, Francis Kasyoka Kioko and the personal at FTOK were very supportive.
Meanwhile, Sophie looked for a suitable place to run the SCA school and found one. I let her announce it when it is the right time. After more than a month dealing with mourning, I decided to come back to the project from London. As it is cheaper and easier to find the material in Europe rather than Kenya, I decided to gather the maximum of good material to run SCA courses I could get as the lowest price as possible, second hand espresso machine and grinder, on sale pocket refractometer delivered from Japan… with the small grant Sophie and Francis Kasyoka Kioko could wire me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford everything and we still need more material.
But we did not stopped there, Sophie, Francis and Benjamin represented the Kenyan coffees at Global Speciality Coffee Expo 2017 and attracted a lot of volunteers interested in the project and ready to help. Which is absolutely fantastic.
Meanwhile in London, the equipment is packed and waiting to be pick up in a few weeks to be sent to Kenya.
Next step, promoting the project at World of Coffee in Budapest, then later, I will have to go back to Kenya to start the SCA school, organising our team volunteers and start running courses.
We already have some students contacting us. This is going to be something wonderful and extremely valuable for Kenyan farming community and Kenyan coffee.
Régine L. Guion-Firmin.