Despite its proximity to Ethiopia (considered by most to be the area from which coffee originated), it is believed that coffee was not cultivated in Kenya until 1893. In that year, French missionaries introduced coffee trees from Reunion Island in the southern Indian Ocean. From the original mission farms near Nairobi, coffee growing began to expand as the plants flourished in the country’s climate. Soon, British farmers began establishing farms and by the 1920s, coffee was Kenya’s main export crop. The Nairobi coffee exchange was established in the 1930’s as a regulator of the industry with strict grading scales. It provides an auction system (still held almost every Tuesday) that benefits the small estate farmers. To this day, the majority of Kenyan coffee is still sold through this auction.
It was estimated in 2012 that there were about 150,000 coffee farmers in Kenya and that around 70% of the country’s coffee production took place on small farms. Most of Kenya’s coffee is grown at elevations ranging from 1,400 meters to 2,000 meters above sea level in the acidic volcanic soils on the high plateaus surrounding the snow-capped Mt. Kenya and the foothills of the Aberdare Range, where the constant temperatures, sunlight and rainfall provide excellent growing conditions. Other growing regions include Bungoma, Kisii, Nyanza, Nakuru, Kericho and, on a smaller scale, parts of the eastern and coastal provinces.
Kenyan coffee beans are wet-processed and graded by the size of the beans. AA is the largest followed by A and B, which are smaller; AB is a combination of the two grades. After milling, coffee beans are graded mechanically into various grades, which differ in size, shape and weight. Coffee from Kenya is well known for its intense flavor, full body, wine-like acidity and pleasant aroma with notes of cocoa. The consistently rich flavors make the high grades some of the most sought-after in the world.
After trying numerous samples of coffees from the country, we decided upon Kenya Lenana. Named for one of the peaks of Mount Kenya, near which it is grown, this washed coffee is graded AB and has delicious winey and sweet flavors. To order or find out more about this very special coffee please call 800-835-5943 or email email@example.com.