October - December
SL-28, SL-34, French Mission Bourbon, Ruiru 11, Batian, K7
Semi-Washed & Fully Washed
Balanced with wine-like fruit and acidity. Commonly floral and herbaceous.
Main growing regions
Embu, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Machakos, Mt. Elgon, Murangua, Nakuru, Nyeri, Thika,
1,400 - 2,000 Meters
Up in the hills the climate is rarely anywhere near as hot as at sea level and rains are consistent
1 Million Bags
1 Million Bags
700,000 Coffee Growers
From 1-50 Hectares
Considering that Kenya borders Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, it’s surprising that Kenya’s first coffee plants took root in the countries volcanic soil less than 120 years ago.
Although Kenyan merchants traded with nearby countries in Africa and the middle East, until the mid-19th century Kenya remained largely unexplored by Westerners. But after German missionaries traveled there and returned home with stories of majestic peaks and huge lakes, Europeans rushed to explore and settle in Kenya – and they brought coffee with them.
Nearly all of Kenya’s coffee is arabica, mostly bourbon-variety hybrids SL 28 and SL34 developed In the 1950s by Scott Laboratories. Disease-resistant ruiru 11, a hybrid introduced in the 1990s, also occupies a small percentage of acreage in Kenya. Though bourbon is typically shade-grown, in Kenya the plants are often cultivated in full sun. Due to the high elevations of the farms, coffee plants are exposed to year-round rain, humid air and cooler temperatures, allowing them to thrive in the sun. Some small holders practice agroforestry, where trees and food crops are planted around the coffee plot.
Much of the countries premium coffee is produced on small farms ranging from one-quarter-acre to three acres in size. To generate enough volume to sell their crop, these small holders have organised into cooperatives. The Eastern African Fine Coffees Association (EAFCA) estimates that more than 700,000 small holders are organised into about 500 co-ops; there are also 320 large estates and more than 3,500 midsize estates of 50 acres, with onsite pulping stations. Small holders account for 58% of total coffee production and 75% of total acreage.
In harvest year 2008, approximately 55,000 metric tons of coffee was available for export, and 50,000 metric tons is expected in coffee year 2009, according to the EAFCA. More than 95% of total production is exported; in this country with Muslim heritage and British influence, tea remains more popular than coffee.
Kenyas are well known for their full aroma, balanced cup and a complex profile that offers high acidity and flavours of sweet, wine-like fruit and spice.