A Safari of the Senses
Kenya remains the origin of nature’s finest coffee containing more than 800 different aromatic compounds. Kenya’s Arabica coffee grows in well drained volcanic soils mostly around the snow-capped Mt. Kenya, Aberdare Ranges, Mt. Elgon, Kisii and Ukambani highlands.
The climate is never hotter than a European summer and never cooler than the best kind of European spring with a temperature range of not more than 19°C (35°F).
Kenyan coffee is carefully handpicked, selecting only the red ripe cherries, which are later sorted to ensure high quality.
Coffee production goes through a systematic protocol from seed to cup; from nursery, farm to pulping, milling and grading. Approximately 90% of all Kenyan coffee is wet processed and dried under the tropical sun to retain its natural taste, aroma and uniqueness. It is thus no surprise that Kenya Coffee gives such a deeply satisfying experience of life: literally taking one on a safari of the senses.
|Main Growing Areas||Altitude||Cup Profiles & Other Information|
|Machakos/ Makueni||1,450||1,600||These counties are predominantly arid. Coffee is grown on hilly areas such as the Iveti, Kangundo and Mbooni Hills.
Produces a cup with medium acidity, full body with some fruity overtones.
|Meru||1,280||1,800||Coffee is grown on the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya and the Nyambene Hills.
Produces a cup with a bright citrus acidity, full body, berry and chocolate flavors and feel.
|Embu||1,280||1,800||Coffee is grown on lower slopes of the Eastern side of Mt Kenya.
Produces a cup with citrus acidity, full body, berries and chocolate flavor and feel.
|Kiambu and Thika||1,520||1,820||This area is also known as the ‘Brazil’ of Kenya. Coffee estates are predominant but there are a few smallholder farmers.
Produces a cup with a well rounded acidity with a grapefruit taste.
|Muranga/ Maragua||1,340||1,800||Coffee is grown on the slopes of the Aberdare Ranges.
Produces a cup with bright citrus acidity, full body, with blackcurrant and chocolate taste.
|Kirinyaga||1,310||1,900||The best of the world’s Arabica coffee comes from this region. The coffee is grown on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.
Produces a cup with a sharp citrus acidity, full body with a clear blackcurrant flavor.
|Nyeri||1,220||1,890||This is the traditional coffee growing area. Coffee is grown on small farms on the slopes of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare Ranges.
Produces a cup with sharp citrus acidity, a full body with blackcurrant and chocolate taste.
|Nakuru, Baringo, Kipkelion||1,830||1,950||These counties are in Kenya’s Rift Valley which is one of the key wonders of the world.
The areas produce a cup with medium acidity, full body with some fruity overtones and a rich chocolate taste.
|Bungoma||1,500||1,950||Coffee is grown on the slopes of Mt Elgon and is considered the future of coffee growing in Kenya.
The Mt. Elgon coffee has bright acidity with fruity overtones typical of high altitude coffee.
|Trans Nzoia||1,700||1,950||Trans Nzoia is the ‘corn belt’ of the nation and coffee is grown on small and medium sized estates.
This area produces a cup with sharp citrus acidity and full body.
|Kisii||1,450||1,700||Kisii is referred to as ‘Gods shower’ as it rains almost every day.
Coffee is grown on the Gusii Hills on small farms. Gusii produces Blue Mountain coffee just as the coffee farmers in Jamaica do.
The cup from this area has medium acidity and body which is typical of Blue Mountain coffee.
|Taita||1,370||1,680||Taita is in the Coast Province and coffee is grown on the Taita Hills and on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro which is in the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
Coffee from this area has medium acidity, full body and fruity overtones.
Adapted from Kenya Coffee Directory
Coffee in Kenya undergoes a thorough grading system. For each coffee lot produced, the coffee beans are rigorously tested for quality and then sorted into various grades depending on size, weight and shape. Kenya AA coffee, Kenya’s premium grade of coffee, is simply a measure of the size, weight and shape of the bean. Size is important because bigger beans mean more aroma and flavour – the two qualities that are of the utmost importance to coffee drinkers. Bigger coffee beans are perceived to produce better quality coffee, all other factors remaining constant.
AA – While it may be widely known as a type of Kenya coffee, Kenya AA is actually a grade of coffee. Beans with a screen size of 7.2 millimeters (approximately 18/64 of an inch and often referred to as a screen size of 18) are assigned the grade AA. This grade of coffee often receives a higher price than other grades.
AB – Slightly smaller than AA, with a screen size of 6.8 millimeters (or 17/64 of an inch). On average, 30% of Kenyan coffee is assigned this grade.
PB – Pea berry beans. About 10% of Kenyan coffee falls into this category.
E – Elephant beans. This category includes the largest beans. Fairly rare in occurrence, in some cases, this grade will include pea berry beans.
C – These are beans that are too small for the AB category, including smaller pea berry beans.
TT -These are smaller beans normally separated from more salable AA, AB, and E grades.
T – These are the smallest grade of beans. Most of these beans are actually broken pieces.
Mbuni – This is unwashed coffee. This is coffee that went unpicked from the tree and merely fell off after ripening. The resulting coffee is generally sour in taste and therefore this grade draws a low price. Approximately 7 percent of Kenyan coffee receives this grade.