Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Coffee growers that we work with

Our first stop was at Barichu Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd is situated in Karatina town, apprx.150 kms from the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi. It has 5,017 total active members.
All of them are small-scale coffee farmers with an average of 150 coffee bushes per farm.
These farmers really on coffee production for their livelihood. 
Alongside coffee, they practise subsistence farming of maize and beans.

We met the Chairman Mr.Wachira Mwago, a few days after we arrived in Kenya. We took our Kenyan team from Kedovo organisation as they are the youth group that facilitates the Program of sustainable coffee farming for my community. They had been doing a splendid job for over a year, and we was ready to hear and see the impact of their work among the communities. We also needed to ship a full container load from Barichu Cooperative.
We do not purchase the coffee from the Auction, we deal direct with the Cooperatives through the Direct Trade method as gazetted by the minister for Agriculture n 2006. That way we can pay our farmers a much higher price for their work....we work together towards sustainability for these communities.

We had a long discussion with Wachira on Organic coffe growing solutions etc.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Chania Coffee farmers

16 hours later after my departure from Hamburg, Germany i arrived home.

I came home to pick coffee....

 I came home back to my people so we could mill and ship the coffee that was ready to Hamburg. The Safmarine vessel was docking in Mombasa within a week. Our coffee container had to be on that vessel.... The future looked bright! there was hope after all.......

We didnt come to experience a one time opportunity of being able to ' pick coffee and follow its journey from tree to cup' oh no.. we came because we know how much work is put behind each and every cup of morning coffee that we all take for granted.

We wasnt coming home for that, no it wasnt about picking coffee...we was coming to strengthen our partnership and relationship with our farmers..

pick coffee and follow its journey from tree to your cup - See more at: http://blog.greenmountaincoffee.com/blog/contributor/my-journey-to-source-nicaragua#sthash.wUSwL87L.dpuf
pick coffee and follow its journey from tree to your cup - See more at: http://blog.greenmountaincoffee.com/blog/contributor/my-journey-to-source-nicaragua#sthash.wUSwL87L.dpuf
We came home to our farmers to continue discussing and implementing the concept of sustainable coffee farming-i needed them to know that the concept didnt have an end; it was going to be there for years to come- we had taken the first baby steps, what we needed is to know where we were set to go, things could only get better...

pick coffee and follow its journey from tree to your cup - See more at: http://blog.greenmountaincoffee.com/blog/contributor/my-journey-to-source-nicaragua#sthash.wUSwL87L.dpuf
pick coffee and follow its journey from tree to your cup - See more at: http://blog.greenmountaincoffee.com/blog/contributor/my-journey-to-source-nicaragua#sthash.wUSwL87L.dpuf

We are in Dubai!!

All that Gold!! my God, i will put a dent on my Credit Card :( :( I love Gold......well i just have to sell more coffee!!

This xmas tree at the Airport in Dubai was just too pretty....

You see in my county when i was growing up, we didnt have those 'plastic' China import christmas trees...we used to just go to the shamba and cut a twig of Cider tree- that is if we were lucky to celebrate xmas at all!
We would then decorate the christmas tree with baloons of all colours, and use cotton wool 'to represent snow' lol! we had no Santa to leave gifts for us underneath the xmas-tree...we just hoped my mother would have saved some money for her to make Chapatis and meat stew for christmas.

6 more hours and i will be home Moma....

Friday, December 13, 2013

We are going to pick coffee!!!

So this week we decided to pack our bags and head to Kenya. The next couple of weeks will be spent with the amazing farmers who produce our coffee.

I will take part of my crew with me. 

The main coffee harvesting season in Kenya is ongoing. Kenya coffee production has 2 seasons :
May-July is what we call fly or early crop.
Sept-Dec is the main / late crop.
This is the time that the 'work force' is required. Its taken me a lot of effort and trainings to my community that 'my' children have to be in school. I know we have school holiday but that doesnt give any justification for those childrn to be picking coffee in the fields, i rather have them playing football or spending the day at the river; for this project to work, we must all stay united against child labour.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Kaltenkirchen weekend market

Every saturday we will be available at the Kaltenkirchen Wochenmarkt.
Our coffee will be available for sale as well as taking our customers through 'the magical coffee growing areas of Nyeri Kenya.

We will have various Kenyan coffee roasted in different profiles for the clients to 'taste'  ( the right word is cupping) and explore Kenya!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


This is our key word at Chania Coffee.

Its a word that both my worlds can understand. We simply dont just sell coffee; we  form Partnerships with our Producers, the Roasters, the Municipalities, the Consumers...name it. We want all to have a 'sence of belonging' in Chania Coffee, because we are family!

Through Engagement Global...we was honoured today to attend the  '2nd Conference for Municipal Partnerships with Africa' Conference in Hamburg.
We met amazing people there. New contacts and networks were established...we keep on learning.
It  was a great experience...and guess which Municipality is the Partner for Hamburg? My neighbours from Daresaalam Tanzania!! it was great to speak 'pure' swahili for a long time. It reminded me of my youthful days in Arusha when i worked for a milk company...it took me back in time climbing Mt.Kilimanjaro and stopping at Tretoria for a warm bowl of banana soup...the meeting took me back home to my people; back to jirani, ndugu, because those are the words my good neighbours from Tanzania, were using. But most of all seeing the Tanzanian delegation there, so happy in their own way, made me realise that my dream of sustainable livelihoods for my community would come...i might not be able to change their lives but my little contribution is the change we all wish for.

The Tanzanias through their partnership with the municipal of Hamburg got their own 'place/ space' named after their city.....'Dar-es-Salaam Platz.

It was amazing, my Tanzanian neighbours have come a long way in development work......go go TZ!!

i got to meet the  Lord Mayor of Daresaalam, Tanzania Dr.Didas Massaburi and his entrouge.We exchanged notes regarding The Millennium Developmental Goals/ Sustainable Development Goals (MDG/SDG) and their implementation at the local level. You see for these partnerships to work its important that the local people be involved from the onset of the program, their interpretation and decision making is very important...its crucial that the local people find a solution / a way for tackling their predicament...without being told what to do...Dr Massaburi is one kind of a guy that can talk forever..i might go to Tanzania one of these days if my Credit card allows ;)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Amazing people

Today marked a new beginning in our coffee Adventure...along the way we have met amazing people; Quijote Kaffee is one of those great partners in this journey, and he will be roasting all our coffees to guarantee the lush tropical fruits aromas that is distinctive of Kenyan Coffees!!
 Pingo of Quijote Kaffee making sure that Chania Coffee achieves the best results in a cup.
We are blessed to have met amazing people along our work. People who are dedicated to support us to bring the change that is needed in the coffee supply chain. People with the same values of Transparency...

 And off to cupping! Remember Chania Coffee and Quijote Kaffee have one thing in common: Bringing real value to the coffee producers whilst preserving the Integrity and Cultivation of coffee and the relationship with the roasters- we build relationships.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Packaging

                                               Our new packaging is ready!

When we started we planned to roast each and every single order, the same day! Times have changed, our concept is working...and since we really on volunteer hours to build this thing up we have decided to change the packaging. We will still roast our coffees fresh, but once a week. This leaves us some extra time to cover other events, do our research and still learn. There is so much to learn and to research on...i believe i can do it, and if i cant let me fail in the attempt...
I am the coffee farmer, trader, roaster, quality control, researcher name it, we dont want to leave any stones unturned..i want to make sure that my community doesnt perish for lack of information. I want to make sure we are in par with the current certifications, the new farming technologies, we promised to deliver quality coffee as thats the only way we can guarantee good prices...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Forming Partnerships

Sustainability for my people will be achieved through formation of partnerships. This is our objective.
We embark today on various events in Germany that will see the formation of 'Municipal Partnerships between the German communities and our coffee producing communities. What this simply translates is that some specific communities in our project, will produce coffee for specific communities in Germany, who will consume this coffee. The partneship will be a Producer-Consumer relationship with great emphasize on producing the coffee under Fair Trade standards...Juhu! no more children as 'workforce' in my community; My many children are headed to school......some percentage of our revenue from this project we will donate to our partner www.kedovo.org - which is our Non-Profit Organisation ( foundation) that supports the sustainability programs in Kenya....

Please read all about the partnership under this link:


Friday, July 5, 2013

Chania Coffee at Kirchenburgfest Lienzing

From the beginning of this journey, i vowed to do things differently. I am aware there will be hurdles, toes to step on but i believe in the beauty of simplicity. We will not go head on collision with the big players, we will curve our own little nich and build ourselves up from there....i have my 'gang'

This weekend we will hit the streets of Muhlacker in Baden Wuttenberg, Germany. We will present our coffees and ideas at the festival in Lienzing. Our approach is based on building Partnerships with Roasters and the communities in Germany; from this trust an partnerships, my people at home will be assured of a ready market for their produce through Fair prices....is that not Sustainability?

You see the children of these communities will be able to attend school, and who knows? one of them might even continue the work i have started when i get those grey hair :D and am walking with a walking stick...yes thats how long i will live!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The home of Chania coffee

Chania Coffee sun drying in the village of my birth; it reminds me of my childhood and the memory of my people. A lot of us at Chania remember our first cup of coffee...experience Chania Coffee yourself and join us in this Adventure...

 One can already see the dark clouds already circling the village of Ndurutu. Yes thats where i was born. I miss the coffee fields, i miss the chirpping of the weaver birds, as they jumped from one berry to another, i miss the singing of crickets at night...i miss my people.
We have the coffee harvesting season in June..my people will be sleeping tonight so tired from the fields, do not despair; there is hope after all..

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Career Fair Cologne Germany

We visited the Career Fair in Cologne organised by Wangui Muhuthia of Mkenya Ujerumani mkenyaujerumani.de. She is an amazing lady with a passion for sustainable development through Education. She is hell bent to have the Kenyan diaspora and especially in Germany taking a serious path and seize the many opportunities offered in Germany's education system.

You can read about us under this link

It was a great day with lively discussion and  a challenge to the Kenyan community in Germany to start being focused on the way forward.

Rachel Mwakazi of mrangi.com and http://pamojaplatform.blogspot.de (my beverage sister)!! took us through the challenges of starting a business in Germany especially for Non-EU citizens, what to do and which offices to approach.

At the fair we decided to form a business forum, where we will be exchanging ideas on how towork towards accomplishing trade promotion and investment between Kenya and Germany and vice versa.

It was a great and inspiring event and we look forward to the next meetings.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The beginning of a long journey with our Arabicas

My community has been dissappointed for many year with the earnings ( if any ) from coffee cultivation.
Many of them cut down their coffee trees in the early 90's when the coffee prices fell down Internationally.
Hundrends of these farmers need a lot of conviction to replant again the coffee bushes. Many have abandoned the coffee farms or simply put up rental structures!

Our volunteer group in Kenya is comprised of youth and we have vowed to put back some sence into the coffee sector. Why cant it pay the farmers? is it not a business just like any other?

We took our jembes ( hoes) and headed back to the fields! Operation planting new coffee bushes!
You see we are tired of living from hand to mouth. We are tired of surviving on less than a Euro per day...we are tired of being statistics!!

The Coffee Research Foundation of Kenya has ben there since time immemorial. Why dont we put to use what those amazing researchers have been working on for years? Their findings are just covered with dust somewhere...
My grandmother is 88 years old, she is still a poor coffee farmer. We do not expect her to understand what CRF researched on...but we can!

Coffee variety SL 28 and SL 34 is what most of my community grows. This variety takes 3-4 years before you can harvest your first coffee bean! How many of you have a patience of 4 years?

In our research we discovered that CRF produced a new coffee variety called Batian.

''The variety known as Batian is high yielding and is expected to boost coffee production in the country. Batian is quick to establish, producing results after 18-24 months upon being planted, in addition to being suitable to all Arabica coffee growing areas.''The Variety is tall, high yielding, resistant to coffee berry disease and leaf rust''

Bingo!! Santa had come early!! is this not what we had been looking for?
a) A variety that took less time to mature?- you see my people had been dissapointed for too long; i couldnt get them to start toiling their land again and wait for 4 years: they wanted their money yesterday :(

b) For years they had struggled with the notorious leaf rust etc...these coffee diseases dug deep into their pockets..they had no more desire to get into debts any more !!We now had a solution, our future looked brighter!

So we got down to work....


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sustainable coffee farming

When we decided to embark on this journey, we didnt have a Trust fund or Government grant sitting somewhere waiting to be utilised.....but we didnt need any money! You see i do not believe in Aid or donations for Africa....Hell no! i believe in Enterprise. Africa is rich! and especially my community. They have the Land and Labour ( the most important aspects in this plan). All they lack is the facilitation to access the International markets. And you see that the Strength of Chania Coffee; i tell my friends- we have the best of both worlds, We Produce coffee and we happen to live in a country that consumes / exports a lot of coffee without having a single bush! I live near the City of Hamburg Germany-The biggest transition point for coffee in the world is Hamburg!!!

According to figures released by Kenya Coffee Traders Association in 2012, Germany exports 30% of Kenyan coffee... so Lets do the maths...

Every single homestead has an approximate of 150 coffee bushes each, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil (Ponte 2002). With our plan we intend to train the farmers on proper coffee cultivation methods, using means that are within ecological and social limits....our projections will be that in a few years every coffee bush can produce minimum 20 kilos.
Hence 150x20 = 2250 kilos get a price of average 100kshs ( i will use the Kenyan currency; but its approximate 1 euro per kilo).Cost of production according to our research is it takes 30-35 shillings to produce 1 kilogram of cherry.
:100-35 = 65x2250 is a profit of 146,250  ksh shillings (1,400 euro). 
This may sound as not so much money to an European mind  but its a big step to these farmers who currently get an average of 25 shillings per kilo (0.25 euro cents) gross payments.
Still on our calculations, we have farmers who even have even the capability of producing even more than 5,000 kilos....the sky is their limit!

Now tell me, if every homestead was assured of a minimum of 1,500 euro per season ( we have 2 coffee seasons) would these communities really need Aid? Remember they practise subsistence farming of maize and beans alongside coffee, so they dont need to buy food! they own the land and the homesteads, they dont need to pay rent! the proceeds from the coffee would cater for amenities like School fees, medical care and even save something for their old age!

Now you get the drift.... is that not sustainability? is that not a solution for Africa by Africans?
And what if one coffee bush could attain 40 kilo production-ITS POSSIBLE!! it has actually been done and its being done even in other coffee producing countries!

You must be wondering why i am doing this, but hej! can you imagine the kids from my community being able to go to school without a worry in the world? Thats why am doing this....i want those kids to be in school...i did amid struggles; this is my gift to them!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Self taught Roaster

Years later after my first encounter with roasting coffee, i actually embarked on a self taught coffee roasting experience.

After relocating to Germany, i always found the coffee found at the stores bitter and lacking that boldness thats so distinct of Kenyan coffees. Not that there wasn't any Single Origin Kenyan coffees being offered in the market; ofcourse there was (is) and mainly on Online shops, but the prices !!! (story of another day).
You see i suffer from one problem; i always convert the Euro € to Kenyan shillings...so you can imagine my shock when a few weeks afte arriving in Germany i ordered Kenyan coffee grade AB from an online shop, the price was 23€ per kilo; if you are Kenyan and reading this, multiply that by 100 - then you will understand why i was going crazy! then i remembered my father was paid 0.25€ cents per kilo of coffee during the last harvesting season........i decided to learn how to roast coffee.

A few years later i would roast our first coffees...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Roasting Coffee growing up

Growing up, i was always fascinated by new things or Adventures.....i was the 'Tomboy' of the homestead.
I have memories of designing an 'energy saving jiko' for my mother and 'building' it from scratch! You see the inspiration came from being so tired of fetching firewood....Anyway the jiko didnt last long, it got destroyed during a fight between me and my brother.....

After the jiko incident, i needed to keep my mind busy and then thats when i started roasting coffee on the 'rugio' ( a pan that is used in Kenya to make chapatis). How did i even come about the idea? My father is passionate about coffee. Our small coffee farm was and is still the best in the area...my brother used to say one can lie down in the nice made furrows and just go to sleep under the African clear blue sky....

One day me and my brother got so curious what would happen if we roasted the damn coffee! we waited till my parents went to church on a Sunday. Armed with our little ndebes we headed to the shamba and picked some coffee. In our childhood innocence we figured that if we threshed the coffee beans just like my mother threshed maize we would get the pulp out. The gods were on our sides; the community's pulping station is just 800 m from my home, so we actually had a vague idea about coffee processing.

Anyway its a long story, but in the end we had roasted cofffee; well it was something between coffee and charcoal ;)
Back then the idea of Chania Coffee was slowly forming, but i was still a child. I still had the whole world infront of me, i wanted to get drunk and party...... things became so difficult i remember swearing never to get married to a coffee farmer! Like my childhood friends, we swore to each other to 'get out' of the village! away from the coffee, away from the struggles, away from the poverty. We was tired....we had been robbed off our childhood! we spent hours and days picking the coffee, spent nights queing at the pulping stations (wet mills) to have our produce selected, weighed and logged.we wanted out...

Many years later, after spending 16 years without having picked a coffee bean; i came back. I came back to my people a wiser person, ofcourse i didnt marry the coffee farmer :D!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chania Coffee- The concept

My name is Muthoni Schneidewind, am a Kenyan living and working in Germany. My friends and family call me Soni.

I was born and brought up in the coffee producing communities of The Aberdares and Mt Kenya mountains in Kenya.

I grew up picking coffee as a child. Me and my siblings always formed part of the 'workforce' in my parents coffee shamba during the school holidays or on Saturdays...yes 'coffee picking day' was always put on a saturday !! regardless of the weather conditions; you see in the Aberdares, you might be getting baked under the hot tropical African sun in one minute, and the next it will rain hailstorms! I have  great memories from this...memories of struggle and despair...... i also have fond memories of the place i still call home despite living so many miles away, i have memories of when tomorrow comes...
Some of my childhood friends didnt even come to school during the coffee seasons...their families needed them for labour.
I left my village when i was 17, to go and 'see the world'......
And my people continued picking coffee....

My father struggled to put me and my siblings through to school with the meagre earnings from the coffee proceeds....like the rest of the other families from my community we all lived from hand to mouth- not knowing where the next meal will eventually come from.
The African spirit of not giving up made us stronger each day that passed...

Three decades later, my community still struggles, they are still debased by a poverty that erodes ambition and pride, that sappes a man's spirit and strength and finally makes him surrender. Many of them can hardly afford proper medical care leave alone making ends meet...they toil from dawn to dusk and the proceeds from the coffee sales do not even cover the cost of production.

It is from all these struggles that i have formed Chania Coffee. This is a registered profit making Social Enterprise based in Germany my country of residence.
To make our stratgey work and be transparent in facilitating community development, i founded Kenya- Dorf- Volunteers (KEDOVO e.V) which is a registered Non-Profit Organisation in Germany.
We plan to put a stop to the shrewdness of the middlemen that dominate the coffee supply chain!
Me and my 'gang' will bombard the Roasters and Importers here with our concept and connect these communities to International markets especially in Germany and other parts of Europe. My group of volunteers in our Kenyan Chapter, which is a registered Non-Profit Community Based Organisation (KEDOVO -CBO)  will dwell on Capacity Building to train my coffee producing community on Sustainable coffee farming.
Our core values are Transparency and Honesty. We will make sure that the coffee money filters back to these communities through a transparent model of Direct Trade and Partnership with the communities.
My people will sell their coffee Direct to Germany....may the force be with us.

Through part of the revenue derived from the sale of coffee in Germany via Chania Coffee and the Partnerships that we will form along the journey, Kedovo e.V will undertake the projects of Rural development for the community in Kiganjo, Nyeri, where we will work towards the following areas:

i) Education for Sustainable development
ii) Income Generating Projects- esp for the women & youth
iii) Access to clean water, Health, Hygiene and Sanitation.
iv) Sustainable coffee farming practises that are within the Ecological, Economical & Social limits that will respect the crop, the farmers and the soil.
v) Food Security
vi) Support Orphaned & Vulnerable children in the community.

This blog will be a place where we can start our journey together, it will be a great Adventure where we will share our story and bring hope to these communities. Through this great Adventure we will show them that everything is possible. This is where we will tell Our Story, Our Way..... We want to make sure that the Chania Coffee story and adventure is worth remembering and repeating. Be part of our story......