Kenyan Coffee: Learn About Coffee in Kenya

Kenyan Coffee
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In Kenya, tea is more popular. Coffee is sparsely grown in farms alongside avocados and nut trees. Kenyan coffee is known for its rich flavor with a deep, wine-like acidity and a pleasant aroma. The beans are distinctly bright taste with complex tones of fruit and berry.

Region: Kenya

Growing Altitude: 1,700 – 1,800 meters

Variety: Arabica

Harvest Period: November – December

Milling Process: Fully Washed, Sun-Dried on Raised Beds

Aroma: Fresh, Floral

Flavor: Bergamot, Berries, Lemongrass

Body: Rich, Heavy

Acidity: Bright

Wet processing is the method used on green coffees.( Kenyan coffees)

kenyan coffee

Kenya coffee ratings

The Kenyan Coffee is potent sweet with a powerful character of tasting notes. It exhibits intense flavors with distinct winery richness and dry, winey aftertaste. It is similar to the Ethiopian Harrar but full-bodied richness than Ethiopian Coffees.

What type of coffee is Kenyan?

Kenya produces Arabica and Robusta coffees.

Arabica is known because it offers high-quality coffee beans, while Robusta beans are inherently bitter and are easy to grow and have higher yields.

Kenya has high elevations and deep, well-drained loamy soil, which are perfect for Arabica to thrive. Kenya has been on the global trend for introducing new arabica varieties that are disease-resistant. Buyers say these beans do not offer the same subtly acidic nuances as the old classics like SL-28 and SL-34.

Best Kenyan coffees

Kenyan coffee is vibrant, clean, and crisp and not subtle or delicate but typically well-balanced. It has notes of lemony citrus or pepper alongside tones of blackberry. The aftertaste may by dry with lemony zest or winey.

The best coffees are freshly roasted by local roasters who work closely with brokers. Roasters can easily communicate with farmers on how to adjust growing and processing. Farmers as well can notify roasters on any changes that will affect the processing.

Kenya coffee brands

Coffee from Kenya is sold on Starbucks and Amazon. The coffee is roasted weeks before being sold, but its taste does not change much. It is packaged in a valve bag, which keeps it fresh for a long period. You can as well get the freshly roasted coffee.

Starbucks Kenya AA

The Kenyan Karatina AA was available under Starbucks reserve programs briefly in 2015.

Starbucks Kenya Kangunu. This was noted having flavors, including lemon, dark chocolate, and black currant.


Kenya coffee review: Tasting Notes

The highest premium gourmet coffee is grown on the Kenya highlands. It is full-bodied with pleasant acidity, fragrant aroma, rich flavors infused with floral tones. This has earned it the name “Connoisseurs Cup.” Even the black currant has quality flavor and aroma. Kenya coffee is among the top five coffee brands in the world because of its distinctive flavors.

The enjoyable aftertaste with citrus and berry notes is unique. Its potent sweetness comes after beans are wet-processed. The coffee is not subtle or delicate butt crisp and vibrant. It is compared with the Ethiopian Harrar, but its full body and richness are better than the Ethiopian Coffees. Each country produces coffees with distinct twists. The best-rated coffees are graded Kenya AA. They have the biggest sides and more aromatic oils. Check out Kenya Coffee Grading.

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Coffee grown in Kenya

kenyan coffee

Most green coffee is Kenya is grown on high elevations ranging between 1,400 meters to 2,000 meters above the sea. Large plantations are on plateaus with volcanic soils on the foothills of the Aberdare Ranges and Mt. Kenya. The elevation qualifies it for the Strictly High Grown (SHG)/ Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) status. Coffee grows slowly at high altitudes, thus providing more nutrients to the coffee bean.

Areas spanning from 17,000-foot Mt Kenya towards Nairobi are major coffee-growing regions while small regions are located near Mt. Elgon. Other coffees growing regions in Kenya include Ruiru, Thika, Kirinyaga, Mt. Kenya West, Kiambu, Murang’a and Nyeri.

Coffee growing in Kenya entrail many small farms, cooperatives, and large estates. An estimated 6 million people are involved in the coffee industry, most with small farms consisting of 50-500 trees. In South America, small farms have 5,000-10,000 trees planted on 1-2 hectares.

Cooperatives are useful in facilitating milling, marketing, and auctioning coffee on behalf of farmers. Auctions are held on Tuesdays during harvest season, which brings price wars for the finest Kenya coffee. The market is decades old and ensures all farmers sell their coffee at the best prices.

The complexity of the Kenya coffee market makes it difficult for coffee companies to buy directly from farmers. It requires a lot of time to trace the farmers, which is expensive for coffee companies.

Kenya coffee plant varietals

kenyan coffee

The loamy, red-orange volcanic soil and the moderate climate consisting of equatorial sunlight and well-chosen Kenya coffee plant varietals make growing very productive;

  • SL 28
  • SL 34
  • K7
  • Ruiru 11
  • Batian

These varietals make Kenya the most consistent producer of world-class premium gourmet coffee. Commercial coffee cultivars produced by Kenya’s Coffee Research Foundation include:

Ruiru 11, which thrives on high elevations, is resistant to Coffee berry disease and coffee leaf rust.

SL 34: grows on higher elevations with plenty of rainfall.

SL 28: grows on high to medium elevations where coffee leaf rust is not a problem.

Kent: grows on lower elevation and is vulnerable to coffee leaf rust.

The varietal African K7, a French Mission Bourbon varietal (Coffea Arabica var bourbon), is grown in Muhoroni at the Lengetet Estate for trials. Robusta Coffee (Coffee canephora var. robusta) grows in the humid environments of Western Kenya.

Kenya coffee harvesting

kenyan coffee

Kenyan coffee flowers in March and April after the rains start. Ripening happens between September and October. The cherry fruit in most parts ripens from October to December.

Processing the coffee beans in Kenya

Bulk mechanical and electrical grading is used. The process separates the best coffee beans from the low-quality ones. Coffee beans are sorted by weight, size, shape, and color. The class system devised by the Coffee Board of Kenya; the worse coffee beans are a ten. A been may be rated as AA because of its size, but it is a four or five on the class system. This means it is not the best quality coffee.

Kenyan coffee is one of the most consistent high-quality beans in the world. Among the top premium gourmet coffees, there are several Kenya coffees.

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Kenya green coffee beans

Kenyan coffee is well-graded after harvesting to form some of the world’s finest gourmet coffees. Coffee beans are sorted and separated according to their size, color, and density. An assumption that bigger coffee beans are of high quality because they have more oils for great tastes and aroma is used. The largest and best coffee beans are graded Kenya AA.

Coffee testers use different criteria for determining the best bean qualities. The quality is determined on the roasted, ground, and brewed Kenyan coffee. Sorting is done by size, and the best qualities have a diameter of one-fourth inch. The smaller sizes are graded as Kenyan AB.

Buying Kenya green coffee beans

kenyan coffee

Kenya is a renowned producer and exporter of coffees and has features on specialty rosters on many occasions. Importers import unroasted coffees into the United States and Canada. Roasters feature Kenyan coffee as medium roast-enough to bring its natural flavors but not so far from losing its flavors. The coffee is top-rated and is not used in blends as much.

Honorable mentions

The most popular and prized Kenyan coffee beans are SL-28 and SL-34. The SL initials stand for Scott Labs. The Lab was hired by the Kenyan government in the 1930s to determine the most economically viable coffee trains for the region.

SL-34 has bronze-tipped leaves, resistant to high rainfall, and is suitable for lower elevations.

SL-28 has a dazzling tomato-like acidity and is the donna of the two.

Kenyan beans are graded by size, and the measurements are done prior to roasting. The largest beans are graded Kenya E, and the second-largest are graded Kenya AA.

The current state of the Kenyan coffee industry

kenyan coffee

The cooperative system of production, processing, milling, and marketing has made the coffee industry in Kenya as one of the most advanced. The use of advanced research facilities and an open auction export have contributed to its success.

Coffee was introduced in Kenya by the British in the 20th century. It is currently the 16th largest producer in the world, with yields of over 100 million tons annually.