When ranking some of the best coffees from around the world, there are only a few significant regions for growing coffee that end up at the top of the list, and Kenya is certainly one of the most famous ones. Many coffee experts consider Kenyan coffee beans to be the most elite due to the fact that they have a full-bodied taste with complex yet delicate flavors. This is due to the fact that Kenyan coffee farmers have a lot going in their favor, including some very ideal growing conditions in the region along with some of the best commerce strategies coupled with extensive research. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that the supply of tasty Kenyan coffee beans continues to flow.
Flavor of Kenyan Coffee
Not only are Kenya coffee beans considered to be some of the best coffee beans by many coffee experts, but it also a popular choice for many people when it comes to deciding on their favorite single origin coffee. They are also a popular choice in many of the top coffee chains such as Starbucks Kenya coffee. Coffee beans from Kenya are known for being full-bodied with a deep dimension, complexity, and balance. Typically, they offer a sweet and savory flavor that has been compared to wine in terms of the acidity. Since they are grown at high elevations in volcanic soils, they do tend to have a higher acid content compared to other beans. The flavor tones range from citrus to berries with a tropical taste that is unique to this area.
What Type of Coffee is Kenyan Coffee?
Arabica and Robusta are the two most popular types of coffee beans in the world today. Arabica beans are known for their higher quality and better flavor, while on the other hand, Robusta beans are known for being more bitter; however, they are easier to grow and tend to produce larger yields. Kenya is one of the best regions for growing Arabica beans, since these beans thrive best when they are grown in soil that is deep and well-drained at high elevations.
Kenya almost exclusively produces Arabica beans, which is one of the major contributing factors to its reputation around the world for producing some of the best quality coffee. However, Kenya is increasingly getting criticism for introducing new hybrid Arabica beans in what’s becoming a worldwide trend. While these new beans are more resistant to diseases, they simply do not offer the same subtle acidity and flavor compared to the older classic coffee beans from Kenya.
What Conditions are Kenyan Coffee Beans Grown In?
Coffee that is grown in Kenya is grown at high elevations between 1400-200m above the sea level, in volcanic and very fertile soil. The soil here is very deep and loamy, making it the ideal type for cultivating and growing Arabica beans. The soil in this region is one of the main factors that is responsible for the reputation of Kenya as a region for producing some of the world’s best-quality coffees.
In Kenya, around 160,000 hectares of land is used to cultivate coffee beans. The land is divided between multiple large coffee plantations and smaller, family-run coffee farms. The major area for growing coffee in this country is on Mount Kenya’s slopes, stretching to Nairobi, the capital city. There is also a smaller coffee-producing region situated around Mount Elgon. Both these areas have an almost complete lack of shade, which contributes to the bright flavors of Kenyan coffee.
How Kenyan Coffee Beans are Processed
When processing Kenyan coffee beans, there are particular established protocols that must be followed to produce a product that is high-quality and reliable. All Kenyan coffee beans are processed using the wet processing method, which is known for producing a fruitier, brighter, and cleaner cup of coffee. During the harvest, only the perfectly ripe, red cherries are picked, and care is taken to make sure that any fruits that are diseased or damaged are removed. The beans are then fermented for up to thirty-six hours, which removes any sugary and slimy coating from the fruit. After this, the beans are left to dry in the sun before being sent for milling.
What’s the Best Roast for Kenyan Coffee Beans?
Kenyan coffee does well with a variety of different roasts; however, a light to medium roast is the best option for making sure that this bean’s subtle, fruity flavors are highlighted best. There are different classifications when it comes to Kenyan coffee beans, and each of these will respond differently to heat being applied. However, all Kenyan coffee beans are relatively dense, which means that they are quite forgiving during the roasting process. When roasting these coffee beans, the main aim is to ensure that the creamy mouthfeel and the fruity acidity of the beans is emphasized. A very light roast is often a popular choice for Kenyan coffee beans, but they also respond well to dark roasts, which promotes the sweeter, fruity berry flavors. When roasting Kenyan coffee beans, a very light roast has notes of banana and starch, while darker, medium roasts bring out caramel and cocoa flavors.
When it comes to Kenyan coffee beans, the drying stage of roasting is especially important. Slow drying is ideal for pushing the sweetness of these beans and developing the weighty mouthfeel. The first crack of the beans, when the beans first make a clear cracking sound when they are roasted, needs to be done gradually and slowly to achieve this. Most experts also recommend resting the Kenyan coffee beans for at least two days after the roasting process to make sure that the sweetness of the beans is optimized.
About the Coffee Industry in Kenya
The Kenyan coffee industry is often referred to as one of the most advanced in the world thanks to a cooperative system of production, processing and marketing the coffee beans. Kenya was first introduced to coffee growing when the British arrived in the country during the early twentieth century. Since then, this country has gone on to become the sixteenth largest producer of coffee in the world, producing one hundred million tons of coffee annually. Of the coffee that is produced here, a huge 95% is exported around the world since Kenyans tend to favor drinking tea over coffee. There are an estimated 150,000 coffee farmers in Kenya, and around six million Kenyan people are employed either directly or indirectly by the coffee industry in the country.
Around two thirds of the coffee production in Kenya is done by smaller scale farmers, while one third is carried out by the larger plantations. However, the sad fact is that although the coffee beans from Kenya are very profitable, the coffee farmers here are some of the poorest in the world. As a result, this has begun to have an impact on the coffee production in this country. In recent years, the yields have been reduced as many of the smaller farms have fallen victim to different socio-economic factors. Along with this, there has been a boom in property development in the areas that were previously used for coffee bean growing, which has also led to a decline in coffee production in Kenya.
What’s the Best Way to Brew Kenyan Coffee Beans?
As with other types of coffee, there are several ways to enjoy Kenyan coffee beans when brewing your cup of coffee. However, these coffee beans tend to work well when steeped, cold brewed, or brewed using the Kahava chungu method.
In Kenya, most of the locals prefer to drink tea rather than coffee and drinking coffee has only started to become more popular in this country over the last couple of decades. However, one exception to this is Kahava Chungu, or Kenyan Bitter Coffee, which is traditionally drank by elderly Swahili men from small cups. This drink is traditionally brewed in a tall brass kettle over a charcoal stove and includes spices such as cardamom, ginger and cinnamon which adds bitterness.
Kenyan coffee beans are often thought to be one of the best options for making cold brew. As a brewing method, cold brewing preserves the subtler fruity and floral flavors in these beans. It is a simple method that involves steeping your coffee grounds in cold water for 18-24 hours before the grounds are strained. You can do this with several different types of equipment including a French press.
If you want to get the most from brewing Kenyan coffee beans, most experts say that steeping or immersion methods are a better option compared to drip coffee brewing methods. To do this, you can use an Aeropress or a French Press, both of which are coffee makers that require you to steep the coffee grounds for brewing. Kenyan beans are also best when ground a little finer than standard, and brewed a little bit stronger, which will place more emphasis on the bright, acidic flavors.
Kenyan coffee beans are considered to be some of the best, for many great reasons.