Coffee plantations are to Kenya as vineyards are to France. In fact, the Kenya coffee industry is so popular that it has given Kenya a national identity. Coffee drinkers from all over the world know Kenya coffee to be one of the richest tasting coffees available. Many consider it to be the best tasting coffee in the world.
How does a cup of premium Kenya coffee taste? While there are many subtle differences, coffees from Kenya all tend have subtle hints of fresh fruit. The actually type of fruit varies from one Kenya coffee farm to the next but berry tones are very popular. Kenya coffee is usually medium bodied. Compared to Ethiopian coffee its taste is brighter and higher in acidity.
The flavor is strong but has a surprising mellow aftertaste when compared to other gourmet coffees (Kona Coffees, Columbian Coffees, etc.). Kenya coffees are usually clean in the cup, a claim that very few coffees can make.
Coffee growing in Kenya
Kenya coffee beans are, like Kona coffee beans, grown in volcanic soil. The areas around Mount Kenya have rich volcanic soil and this is one of the reasons Kenya coffee beans grow to be so big but it’s not the only reason. The Kenyan government in cooperation with the Kenya coffee plantations have dedicated a lot of time, money and resources into advanced coffee research and when you drink a cup of delicious Kenya coffee you will no doubt appreciate the effort.
Unlike in other coffee growing areas of the world (like Columbia), the typical Kenya coffee plantation is actually more of a farm. There are rumored to be more than 250,000 small coffee farms in Kenya. Each coffee farm produces relatively small batches of coffee which are then sold at a weekly government run coffee auction. This approach rewards higher quality growers with higher prices, with Kenya AA coffee beans commanding the best prices.
For the purpose of the Kenya coffee auction, all beans are graded by size:
- Kenya AA coffee beans are the largest and
- AB coffee beans are slightly smaller.
Since Kenya AA coffee beans are larger, they command a higher price at the Kenya coffee auction. So, look on the label for the phrase “Kenya AA coffee” if you want premium Kenya coffee.
Other coffee growing countries could learn a lot from the Kenyans, not only about growing coffee but also about how to properly market coffee. The Kenya coffee auction has created a quality-driven market which rewards the best growers with the best prices. Couple that with their commitment to coffee research and you end with a recipe for success in the coffee industry.