Killian here, co-founder at Moyee Coffee. As the weather starts to get sunnier here with the arrival of summer and we begin to get out our iced coffees, take a moment to remember that our coffee farmers in Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia are heading into their rainy seasons.
Harvest season, when we typically visit the farmers and take many of our photos, is sunny and dry but that’s in November and December. Right now it's rainy season. In many coffee-growing areas, this begins in March and doesn’t stop til September, though in some areas there is a dry but cool break in the middle in June and July. But coffee grows at altitude so June and July are some of the coldest months our farmers will endure. While temperatures during the day can still be 20-30 degrees, at night it gets very cold, dropping as low as 5 degrees or worse. This is when snow falls on the tallest mountains in Africa - Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro, and the Rwenzori’s on the border between Uganda and the Congo and it’s during these months that coffee crops can be badly damaged by frost.
In times past, frost arrived once every twenty years but it has become far too frequent since the turn of the century. In the last seven years since we set up Moyee in Ireland, our Ethiopian farmers have endured frost damage twice, losing about 10% of their harvest both times.
Aside from the risk of frost, it can lash rain and get mucky as hell making even the shortest journeys into town a full days expedition. Still, there’s weeding to do, fertilizer and compost to be applied to each and every coffee tree on the farm (hundreds per farm), and insect pests and plant diseases to be fended off with organic sprays and assorted remedies.
All in all, it’s a hard season for coffee farmers with long days in the fields, hiking up and down coffee hillsides, and carrying heavy loads through rain or shine. All to finally harvest the beans that make the daily brew we all love so much.
So next time you’re having a coffee, please raise your cup for the farmers, and help make every sip count!