Introduction

From seed to cup, Kenyan coffee follows a well crafted system that spans nursery, farm, pulping, milling, and grading. Hand selection and grading, sun drying, and processing guarantee that the resultant cup has an exceptionally well balanced body, bright acidity, powerful flavour, and a delightful aroma with notes of blackcurrant, honey, chocolate, and caramel. It’s no surprise that Kenyan coffees are so popular with roasters and coffee drinkers around the world!

Origin Summary

Country
Kenya
Annual Coffee Exports (60kg bags)
800,000 - 1 million
Typical Varieties Produced
SL28, SL34, K7, Ruiru 11, Batian & Kent
Key Coffee Regions
Bungoma, Embu, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Machakos, Mt. Elgon, Mt. Kenya, Murang’a, Nakuru, Nyeri, Taita Taveta, Thika, Tran-Nzoia
Typical Harvest Times
March – July (main); September – December (fly)
Typically Available
From Early May
Average Farm Size
1 - 12 Hectares for Small Holders. 50+ Hectares for estates
Processing methods
Strictly High Grown and Fully Washed. Some Naturals
Standard Bag Sizes
60kg or 30kg
MASL
1300m - 2200m
Popular Grades
AA (17/18ss), AB (15/16 ss), PB (16ss)
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History

Kenya has one of the most fascinating and complex coffee histories: despite being neighbors with Ethiopia (the birthplace of coffee) only recently started to cultivate its own coffee at scale. The first coffee plants were introduced to the region by Scottish and French missionaries, with the latter donating what became known as French Mission Bourbon, which was transplanted from the island of Bourbon (now called Reunion) to Tanzania and Kenya to help fund their activities on the ground. Meanwhile, the Scots introduced varietals from Mocha, with the many types adding to the country’s dynamic coffee quality to this day.

Kenyan exports became the dominant way for the British empire to control both the tea and coffee markets across the world after it was established as a British colony expressly for its moneymaking potential. The coffee bean became a significant Kenyan export by the 1920s, as Europe sought more and more coffee. The auction system was devised in the 1930s, as the primary means of selling coffee which today still accounts for 95% of all sales and is overseen by the Nairobi Coffee Exchange.

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The Situation Today

Coffee became more important to small landholders when Kenya gained independence from Britain in the 1960s, when many of them were handed coffee fields as part of the redistribution of private property. This has enabled, though government issued licenses, direct sales of coffee via farmers and co-operatives. These direct sales are also known as the Second Window.

Our ability to procure coffees based on cup quality not only at auction but also thanks to our Second Window relationships gives us the ability to provide our customers with a wider range of Kenyan offerings at different price points and profiles.

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