Many claim that Kenyan Coffee, our August companian, is the best in the world. That is why we suggest that it is time you got to know it better.
Kenya is among the 20 largest coffee producers in the world, and in Africa it ranks 5th. But quantity has never been an end in itself for local farmers. The country is famous as the place where some of the most refined coffee flavors in the world are grown. Farmers there prefer quality instead of quantity for years. Depending on the region, varietals and processing, Kenyan coffee can have a wide variety of flavors. Let us share with you some interesting facts about coffee from Kenya!
1. What is the climate in Kenya?
Kenya is situated at the center of the coffee belt – the equator runs through the country. The country’s tropical climate is more than ideal for coffee production. It is not an exaggeration to say that there are no distinctive seasons in the country – balanced temperatures prevail throughout the year. There are two rainy seasons: from April to June and October-November. Harvesting takes place mainly from October to December.
2. When has coffee cultivation begun in Kenya?
Despite its proximity to Ethiopia, Kenya has been growing coffee since 1893, when the French Order of the Holy Ghost planted coffee bushes brought from Reunion Island. As the mission of the monks was located near the capital Nairobi, it was there where coffee was planted for the first time.
According to another theory, we have theScottish missionary John Patterson to blame for planting the first coffee bushes in Kenya. Whatever the truth, until 1923 in the country coffee was cultivated only in areas where European settlers lived.
3. What percentage of the country’s population works in the coffee industry?
There are about 150,000 coffee farmers in Kenya. Around six million locals find direct or indirect employment through the coffee industry. Two-thirds of production is concentrated in small scale farms. The rest comes from large plantations. Unfortunately, despite the excellent quality of the beans , coffee farmers in Kenya are amongst the world’s poorest.
4. What is the state of the coffee industry today?
Among professionals, the coffee industry in Kenya is known as one of the most developed in the world. This is due to the system of production, processing and sales, which are carried out mainly within a highly developed cooperative system. The country has modern research centers, which monitor the qualities of coffee and develop new varieties. Key to the success of Kenyan coffee around the world is the open auction system.
5. How is Kenyan coffee processed?
The better part of Kenyan coffee is wet processed. The beans undergo a long fermentation process that could continue up to 36 hours. This wat the slimy, sugary coating is easily removed. After that, beans are sun-dried on African beds. As a result of the wet processing, the cup is cleaner, with strong and unmistakable flavors with predominant fruit notes.
The best coffees from Kenya are sorted as Kenya AA – these are the largest beans, which are also considered to contain the most aromatic oils.
6. How much Kenyan coffee is for export?
Annualy, Kenya produces about 100,000 tons of coffee. Attention: small farm holders grow only between 50 and 500 coffee plants on their lands. Almost 95% of the total coffee production is for export. Are you surprised? This percentage is easily explained with the long-standing tradition of drinking tea in the country.
7. How do they traditionally prepare coffee in Kenya?
Kahawa Chunghu, or Kenyan Bitter Coffee, is the beverage that elderly Swahili men prefer. It is typically brewed over in a tall brass kettle. Its form resembles the Ethiopian traditional coffee brewing pot. The bitter taste comes from the inclusion of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and other spices. It is often served with dates or other sweet treats to balance the bitterness.
8. Which are the coffee growing regions
The area that spreads south of Mount Kenya to the capital Nairobi is the largest coffee region. Near the border with Uganda, at the foot of Mount Elgon is another important coffee region.
The main names of the coffee growing areas are Ruiri, Tika, Kirinjaga, Western Mount Kenya, Nyeri, Kiambu and Muranga. They have different ecosystems with diverse flora and fauna. Interestingly, factors such as whether the coffee plants are illuminated by the morning or afternoon sun influence the formation of the flavor.
9. Which are the best methods for preparing Kenyan coffee?
We always advise you to experiment to get the taste you like best. On the other hand, it is always good to find out what the experts say and advise.
Many experts recommend steeping methods if you’re interested in the subtle nuances of a Kenyan coffee. That is why you can prepare them in a French Press or an Aeropress.
There are other experts that suggest you brew your Kenyan beans a little stronger and grind a little finer than usual. If you follow their advice, you will highlight the brighter and acidic nature of the beans.
Last but not least, there are experts who claim that Kenyan coffees are very suitable for Cold Brew. This is due to the fact that this method of preparation preserves the subtle floral and fruity notes that characterize Kenyan coffee.
Kenyan coffees are renowned as some of the best in the world. One of the reasons for this is their pronounced, distinctive flavor characteristics.
10. At what elevation are Kenyan coffees grown?
Most of Kenyan coffee grows at elevations ranging from 1,400 meters to 2,000 meters above sea level in the volcanic soils on the high plateaus surrounding the snow-capped Mt. Kenya and the foothills of the Aberdare Range. Because of the elevation Kenyan coffee grows slowly, develops without a rush and absobrs many nutrients from the soil.
11. Which are the most t ypical varieties?
Although Robusta also grows in Kenya, the country is best known for its quality Arabica. The most typical varieties are SL 28, SL 34, K7, Ruiru 11, Batian and Blue Mountain. All but the latter are typical of East Africa.
Ruiru 11 grows well at all elevations and is resistant to coffee berry disease as well as coffee leaf rust. SL34 grows well at higher elevations and prefers rain. SL28 grows well at high to medium elevations where coffee leaf rust is not a big problem. K7 is a Bourbon varietal and grows in Muhroni.
12. Why does the size of the beans matter?
The grades of Kenya coffee beans are sorted by size, form, color and density. The sizes includeKenya E (Elephant Bean), Kenya PB (Peaberry), Kenya AA, Kenya AB, Kenya C, Kenya TT, Kenya T, and Kenya MH/ML. The greates amount of specialty coffee that goes for export is Kenya’s AA grade. Then come AB and T. The quality of the beans is marked by its “class”. Classes range from 1 through 10, where 10 means”the best”.
13. What is characteristic for Kenyan coffee flavor?
The best Kenyan coffees are extremely well-balanced with is vibrant taste, clean cup, and crispy freshness. One cannot call them subtle or delicate. You may find notes of lemony citrus, even pepper, along with notion of blackberry. The aftertaste may be predominantly lemony, or winey with notes of berries and citrus. The aroma is dense, floral, but it can also be chocolaty.