Coffee atlas: Kenya

Capital: Nairobi

Population: 46.7 million

Area: 580 thousand square km

Alongside Ethiopia and Colombia, Kenya is one of the origins we get most excited about at the roastery. It exports some of the most vibrant, bright, and unique coffees in the world.

Coffee cultivation started in Kenya around 1893 with the introduction of the coffee plant by French missionaries. After unrest and a political uprising in the 1950s, coffee production began to shift from British colonial control to Kenyan control.

This shift saw a general move away from large estates to smallholders. Smallholders do not process the coffee themselves, instead bringing their harvest in to a local washing station for processing.

Kenya is well regarded for its research and development of coffee varietals and this information is often well disseminated back to the farmers, who are considered to be highly educated in the production of coffee.

As you may notice with our Kenyan coffees, they are graded (separated) by size. There tends to be an assumption that this size grading also reflects the overall quality of the coffee, though this is not always the case.

The grading is as follows:

  • E - Elephant beans, and the largest grade
  • AA - the next largest screen size (7.22mm), this grade tends to fetch the highest prices.
  • AB - The next size down which is combination of the A grade (6.8mm) and B grade (6.2mm).
  • PB - peaberries are a natural mutation in coffee where only one bean forms in a cherry rather than the usual two.

Shop current coffees from Kenya


Coffee regions in Kenya

Embu

Named after the town of Embu, also near Mount Kenya and its fertile growing conditions

Common varietals: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, Batian, K7

Typical altitude: 1300–1900 m above sea level

Harvest: October–December (main) and June–August (fly)


Kirinyaga

This region is located east of Nyeri, and has similarly rich volcanic soils and a high percentage of smallholder producers.

Common varietals: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, Batian

Typical altitude: 1300–1900 m above sea level

Harvest: October–December (main) and June–August (fly)


Murang’a

East of Nyeri, also with rich volcanic soils and a high percentage of smallholder producers

Common varietals: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, Batian

Typical altitude: 1300–1900 m above sea level

Harvest: October–December (main) and June–August (fly)


Nyeri

Central region home to Mount Kenya, an extinct volcano that produces rich, red soil. Most commonly smallholder cooperatives. Coffee trees in this region produce two crops (the main harvest producing the higher quality lots)

Common varietals: SL28, SL34, Ruiru 11, Batian

Typical altitude: 1200–2300 m above sea level

Harvest: October–December (main) and June–August (fly)


Previous coffees from Kenya: