The recognizable taste, bright acidity, and rich aroma, berry, citrus and floral notes – the character of Kenyan coffee make it a favorite for many spicy drinkers around the world.
What exactly creates this unique flavor profile, so beloved by all players of the best sports betting site in Africa? Is it influenced by the processing method and unique local varieties? In this article, we will tell you about the main features of coffee from Kenya.
1. Full-Bodied Acidity and Blackberries on the Palate
Kenyan coffee is known for its strong acidity and berry flavors. Among the flavor descriptors, black currant is the most common.
For the sparkling acidity in the cup, the traditional Kenyan Arabica varieties SL28 and SL34 are responsible, which we will talk about a little bit below.
2. Kenyan Coffee Grows at High Altitudes
Coffee trees in Kenya grow at altitudes between 1,400 and 2,000 meters. The air temperature is lower here, so the coffee berries ripen slowly and develop more flavor and aroma qualities.
The main coffee-growing area is on the slopes of Mount Kenya. The soils in these regions are volcanic, fertile, rich in minerals and nutrients.
Another reason why Kenyan coffee is so popular is that the country doesn’t produce that much coffee. There are only about 150,000 hectares of land in Kenya suitable for growing coffee in the following regions: Ruiri, Thika, Kirinyaga, Mt. Kenya West, Nyeri, Kiambu, and Muranga.
Did you know that people living in these regions hardly ever drink the coffee they produce? Kenya is predominantly a tea country, unlike neighboring Ethiopia.
3. Cooperative Production Is a Guarantee of Quality
Most coffee in Kenya is grown by small farmers on small family plots and is further processed and prepared for sale in cooperatives. Only a quarter of the production is made up of large private farms with their to, processing stations.
Usually, small farmers with small plots of land deliver their harvests to nearby processing stations. Coffee berries are carefully sorted before they are processed. Only ripe red berries make it to the next stage. All work at the farms and stations is done manually. This approach guarantees consistent product quality.
4. Coffee Is Sold Through Auctions
In Kenya, coffee is sold through a national auction system. Coffee is auctioned on behalf of the cooperative by marketing agents. The main buyers are large multinational companies who then resell the lots to importers and roasters. Unfortunately, for a long time, this was the only way to buy Kenyan coffee. This system was unstable, complicated, and completely opaque.
Recently, fortunately, there have been positive changes. Small importers, and sometimes the roasters themselves, have started buying coffee directly from auctions. This not only helps support local, Kenyan businesses but also makes the supply chain more stable and communication clear and efficient.
5. Famous Kenyan Varieties
Traditionally, five different varieties of Arabica are grown in Kenya:
- SL28 is one of Africa’s best-known and most respected arabica varieties. From Kenya, it was further spread throughout the continent and made its way to Latin America.
SL28 has an interesting and long history. In 1931, 42 coffee trees from various regions of Kenya and the neighboring Tanganyika (now Tanzania) were selected by Scott Agricultural Laboratories in order to study their yield capacity and their resistance to disease and drought. All of the trees were given the prefix SL in the name in honor of Scott Laboratories. The selection of SL28, descended from Tanganyika Drought Resistant, the seed of which was imported from Tanzania, has given very good results and the seeds were then widely distributed among the growers.
Another great thing about SL28 is that it requires very little care. The tree can be left unattended for a few years and then return to successful production. In Kenya, you can often find SL28 trees that are 60-80 years old and still bearing fruit.
- SL34 was also bred at Scott Laboratories in the early 1930s. It is of original Kenyan origin, with all of its seeds coming from a single tree on the private Loresho Estate farm in Kebet, Kenya. Research records indicate that SL34 comes from the French Mission variety.
French missionaries established a mission to Bure (Taita Hills, Kenya) in 1893 and planted the first seeds of the Bourbon variety, which they brought from Reunion Island. From there the seedlings were spread throughout the country.
Thanks to the activity of French missionaries and their help in getting the seeds from Réunion Island to the content, the Bourbon variety got its second stable name: French Mission.
- K7 was released in Kenya in 1936 after five generations of breeding SL28 and SL34. It also has a low but stable production, high flavor, and aromatic qualities, and is also resistant to some coffee leaf diseases, such as coffee “rust”. It belongs to the genetic group of Bourbons.
- Ruiru 11 is a high-yielding and disease-resistant variety, derived from several varieties: crossing Katimor with hybrids K7, SL28, N39 and Rume Sudan.
6. High-Quality Coffee Undergoes Washed Processing
Washed processed coffee is the most popular coffee in Kenya. High-quality washed coffee traditionally undergoes double fermentation.
After the reception, the berries are passed through a depulpator – the pulp from the coffee berries is mechanically removed. After that the beans, still covered with a thin sticky layer of gluten, are placed in fermentation tanks with a minimum amount of water for 12-24 hours, depending on the speed of fermentation.
When most of the gluten has separated, the grain is washed with water. Unripe, low-density beans float to the surface of the water and are removed. Then the process repeats: the coffee is left to ferment for a few hours and rinsed again with clean water. The fermentation process breaks down the gluten and breaks down large amounts of sugars.
This process forms the basis of the flavor of the washed coffee: it emphasizes acidity, citrus, and floral notes, and makes the profile clean and balanced.
The next day, the coffee beans in the parchment (a thin parchment layer around the green bean, what remains after the berry pulp and gluten are removed) are washed in special channels.
After washing, the parchment is laid out on tables for drying in direct sunlight, covering in the hottest hours of the day and overnight. Drying takes from 8 to 14 days.
7. Kenyan Coffee Is Classified Into Grades
As mentioned above, at each stage of processing, the coffee beans are sorted and graded. All coffee sent for export is classified by size (grade).
It is important to say that this classification is a physical characteristic of the bean, which has nothing to do with the parameters of quality and taste.
- Kenya E is “elephant grains,” of gigantic size. Such batches are usually small and fairly rare.
- Kenya AA is the most common label for large size. The grain with the largest screen size (surface length) is 6.8 mm.
- Kenya AB – a mixture of two types of grains: A-grain with a surface length of 6.8 mm and B-grain with a slightly smaller size, from 6.2 mm.
- Kenya RW is a peaberry grain. The berry usually matures two grains, but sometimes only one grain develops inside the berry, it takes a rounded shape and is called a piberri.
- Kenya C – the beans are smaller in size than the AB category. It is rare to find such a label among high-quality coffees.
- Kenya TT is another small size. This category usually includes beans that do not fit into the size categories AA, AB, and E. If sorted by density, the lightest grains fall under the TT label.
- Kenya T – grains of the smallest size, pieces, and fragments.
- MN/ML – Mbuni Heavy and Mbuni Light. Unripe or overripe berries that have not undergone control sorting before being delivered to the processing station are sent to dry on tarpaulins, and over time they turn into low-quality natural coffee called Mbuni. This coffee is sold at a very low price and accounts for about 7% of annual production.
If you are looking for high-quality coffee with an interesting flavor profile, intense acidity of ripe berries, citrus, and young wine, a rounded and soft body, and a long pleasant aftertaste, coffee from Kenya is what you need!