GILMART COMPANY LIMITED
Gilmart company limited is an International specialty coffee importer and trader with direct relationships with the exporters, working at producer and mill level to source and improve coffees at the farm gate. We are a passionate team of specialty coffee professionals based in Kenya.
Buying and Quality
We have a dedicated and experienced buying and quality assurance team. At Gilmart company limited, we visit regularly and work with our producer and exporter partners face to face. We travel multiple times a year across East Africa, Central America, Brazil, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and China, with more producer and origin partners being added to our network every year. At home, we have a strict set of quality assurance measures in place to underpin and inform our buying program. We cup every day to ensure we only buy and develop the best coffees possible for our clients.
Communication and Partnerships
Communication is key and vital to our work. We strive to constantly improve our communication of quality right through our supply chains, by working with our clients and origin partners in a tailored approach. From the micro roaster wanting to buy 1 bag, to the multi-container roaster, we aim to understand closely what our client’s needs are, and in turn source the best coffees for them. Through this process we provide a valuable link from roaster to producer and an important feedback loop between all parties. Our clients not only gain access to great coffees, but are actively involved and educated about our suppliers, production and the complexities of origin. Our origin partners do not only have the opportunity to open markets for their coffees, we aim to support them in understanding and improving quality, and to keep up with the often changing preferences of their valuable international markets. We don’t like to cherry pick, we prefer to work long term with origin partners who want to work with us closely to develop and maintain strong brands for their coffee.
In many instances we have development projects with small producer groups where we work on quality improvements in production, processing, drying or sometimes just a simple linkage with the specialty coffee market by providing feedback between producer and roaster.
Kenya is a powerhouse coffee Origin and one that is dear to our hearts. Traditional production practices and attention to detail at the best mills and Estates favour quality unparalleled in other coffee origins and the flavour profiles coming from the best lots can be sublime.
Kenya also has one of the most transparent and rigid buying systems in the world at the Nairobi auctions. There are a number of very well organized, established estates surrounding Nairobi - however the majority of supply comes from farmers organized into cooperative structures as the average farmer will typically have land of between 0.5 and 3 acres. By law in Kenya a farmer with under 5 acres must be organized into a cooperative.
Typically a Coop society may service a number of washing stations - each servicing there surrounding small holder farmers to bring coffees to market. It is illegal to sell cherry to a middle man, so to finance, educate, and provide inputs and support to farmers, there are a group of ‘market agents’ who act as representatives to the farmer throughout the chain. These Market agents act as the dry mill partners, and will take their cooperative partner’s coffee through the auction system. Market agents cannot own coffee - they instead charge their partner’s fees for the service of milling, and a small percentage of auction prices once the coffee is sold. These agents are a very important step in connecting the farmer to the market - as it is their samples that are passed on to all exporters bidding at auction - and they along with farmer will set the reserve price at auction and will then negotiate with the end buyer if this reserve is not met.
There are around 15 truly active exporters in Kenya - however there are over 60 registered at auction. Each exporter will cup over 600 lots from the 10 active market agents before each week’s auction. Due to the traceability enforced by law of where each small lot comes from - exporters with experience know which Market agent, representing which society or mill will produce certain qualities.
Exporters then go to the Nairobi auctions on a Tuesday, after expense cupping and select the lots they want to bid on, and compete with the other exporters to select the lots they want for their markets.
Kenya has two seasons, an eary "Fly" Crop which is harvested typically from May to July/August, and a later "Main" Crop which is harvested from October through to about January. Typically Fly is a much smaller crop, and the regions which produce the most exceptional coffees in Main crop don't normally produce much if at all during
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