The Ichuga washing station is owned and run by the Kiama Farmers’ Cooperative Society since 1978 and is located in the Nyeri region, surrounded by Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Range. Nyeri is located in central Kenya, on the southwestern slopes of Mount Kenya and the eastern slopes of the Aberdare Range, and alongside the neighbouring Kirinyaga region, is home to Kenya’s most complex coffees.
Nyeri's fertile volcanic soil, mild average temperatures and seasonal rainfalls provide ideal conditions for high-quality coffee cultivation. Over 70% of the region’s coffee is produced by smallholders working on a few hectares, growing only around 250 coffee shrubs each. Around 700 smallholders submit their crop to Ichuga during the harvest season, where the cherries are immediately sorted and separated according to various rules. The washing station is supplied with fresh water by the nearby Gathiururuko spring. The cherries are pulped mechanically the day before being fermented. Fermentation is a microbial process, during which wild yeasts and bacteria break down the slimy, sugary layers of mucilage stuck to the coffee beans. Fermentation is followed by washing the cherries, after which they are dried in the sun for 9 to 13 days.