The British first introduced coffee growing into Kenya in the early 1900’s and by the 1950’s the Bourbon hybrids SL 28 and SL 34 were developed by Scott Laboratories to create exceptionally bright and resilient coffee varieties with big body and recognised cleanliness.
Primary growing regions are located in Kenya’s Central Highlands, North and North-East of Narobi, where the high altitudes and predictable rainfall produce juicy and lively SL 28 coffees. The Southern Foothills of Mt. Kenya to the North offers rich organic soil that harbors K7 and SL varieties with a more chocolaty body and mouthfeel.
The farms in Kenya are divided between Estates and smallholders that are assembled into ‘factories’ or co-operatives that process and grade the coffee, then trade globally via Government-run weekly auctions. The auctions, which take place on the Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE), are extremely transparent in price and distribution, sparking the inspiration behind the Cup of Excellence competition. In 2006 the government licensed 30 independent marketing agents to trade coffee directly to foreign green buyers alongside the NCE system, developing an innovative trading platform for the farming community.
Coffee is graded here by size using screens, the largest and best being AA.
Growing Regions: Kirinyaga, Embu, Nyeri, Murunga, Nakuru, Kiamu, Ruiri, Meru (1,100 – 2,300 masl)
Varieties: SL 28, SL 34, K7, Ruiru 11, Batan
Processes: Mostly Washed, yet some Natural
Harvest: October – December (fly crop April – June)
World Ranking: 22nd Largest Coffee Producer in the World
Tasting Notes: high quality, educated farmers produce bright, acidic and sweet coffees with notes of lemon, citrus berries, apple, grape and wine; chocolaty and spicy notes can be found in the natural processed coffees