Another first for us in our quest to build on the numerous African countries we've sourced over the years. This time we're heading to Malawi, whose capital Lilongwe, is often a pub quiz question favourite. This African coffee is a hybrid SL28 varietal (see detailed info below). This coffee has a brightness but not an overly high acidity and has a creamy mouthfeel, with chocolate biscuit notes and hint of citrus. Capital!
For more information on this coffee, schooch over to the "Nerd Zone" tab above.
MALAWI: Sable Farm SL28
Farm Name: Sable Farm
Farm Size: 461 ha
Number of Farms: 1
Region: Mangochi, Southern Malawi
Processing: Natural Sundried
Altitude: 1,150 - 1,300 masl
Soil: Red sandy loam
Harvest: February - August
The consistently outstanding coffee coming out of Sable Farms is the result of a foundational belief: invest in the farming practices that support the farm.
Southern Malawi, landlocked and hampered by a lack of infrastructure, is not an easy place to grow coffee. But these farmers pour their efforts into using their limited resources with a thoughtfulness that’s brought healthy growth and a global reputation.
On an ecological level, Sable farms use drip irrigation systems, solar-powered coffee dryers and they compost the cherries after they’ve been pulped.
On a social level, Sable Farms provides health insurance for workers and their families. They have also built a school on their Ngapani Coffee estate in the Mangochi District.
SL28 Varietal - History
SL28 is among the most well-known and well-regarded varieties of Africa. It has consequently spread from Kenya, where it was originally selected in the 1930s, to other parts of Africa (it is important in Arabica-growing regions of Uganda, in particular) and now to Latin America. The variety is suited for medium to high altitudes and shows resistance to drought, but is susceptible to the major diseases of coffee. SL28 is notable for its rusticity—a quality meaning that it can be left untended for years or even decades at a time, and then return to successful production. There are SL28 trees in many parts of Kenya that are 60-80 years old and still productive.
SL28 was selected at the former Scott Agricultural Laboratories (now the National Agricultural Laboratories, NARL situated at Kabete—more information below). Individual tree selections made at the Scott Laboratories during the 1935-1939 period were prefixed SL. Fourty-two trees of various origins were selected and studied for yield, quality, and drought and disease resistance. SL28 was selected in 1935 from a single tree in a population called Tanganyika Drought Resistant. In 1931, the senior coffee officer of Scott Labs, A.D. Trench, conducted a tour of Tanganyika (now Tanzania). According to historical documents, he noticed a variety growing in the Moduli district that appeared to be tolerant to drought, diseases and pests. Seed was collected and brought back to Scott Laboratories, where its drought resistance was confirmed. It was widely distributed until superseded by its progeny, SL28. SL28 was considered the prize selection of this period of intensive breeding.
To get the very best from this coffee, why not try a pour-over. Perfect for Aeropress / Chemex / V60 or Softbrew.
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