As the fortunes of coffee farming continue to worry farmers in central and other regions where the cash crop is grown, a university is seeking to deepen local consumption of the beverage through new value added products.
Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) is teaching farmers and its students how to make coffee flavoured yoghurt.
Seeds of Gold team finds John Mbae, a food technologist, at the processing plant with a group of students.
The students are assisting in picking premium grades of coffee to be blended for the processing of the yoghurt.
Mbae says the students at the university's Institute of Food, Bio-resources Technology Department came up with the idea to experiment with the key agricultural products in the county, that is milk and coffee.
"We have been using part of coffee produced from our 300-acre farm and milk from our dairy cows to make the coffee flavoured yoghurt," notes Mbae.
To process the product, Mbae says they rely on coffee extracts from premium grades AA, AB and PB to achieve the optimal taste of the yoghurt.
"We use natural flavours, which are extracts from coffee to make the yoghurt without adding any other synthetic additives," he says.
Mbae explains that the highest grades of coffee are rich in aroma, flavour and are a very concentrated solution.
While processing the yoghurt, he says one must ensure the milk is fresh and should be free of impurities. After receiving milk from the farm and testing it for quality, they sieve it to remove physical dirt. They then measure ingredients such as sugar, starch and cultures.
EXPANDS CONSUMPTION OF COFFEE
"We then heat the milk to 450C before adding the ingredients as we stir. The milk is again heated to 800C," he says, adding they pasteurise the milk further to kill all micro-organisms that may interfere with the fermentation process.
The milk is then left to cool to 450C and bacterial culture is added so that it can ferment for the next four hours in an incubator.
Processed coffee is then added for flavour. The product is sold in the college at Sh50 for a 250ml pack and Sh160 for a litre.
The institution is working to have the yoghurt sold in supermarkets by the end of the year.
“Our processing plant has a capacity of producing between 250 and 300 litres of yoghurt daily but we are working to have a capacity of 2,000 litres," says Mbae, adding they are certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Ayub Mungai, a food science Masters student, says being part of the project has helped him become innovative and he will replicate the skills in the industry.
Mbae says coffee yoghurt expands the consumption of the crop since it is good for those who do not take black coffee due to health complications such as ulcers.
According to him, farmers do not need to own the coffee milling machine, but they can subcontract the processing.
Robert Thuo, a crop expert, notes that with such products, local consumption of coffee can go up boosting farmers’ incomes.