All about coffee from Kenya


Kenyan Arabica is grown on nutrient-rich volcanic soils at altitudes of 1400 to 2000 metres above sea level. Did you know that the best Arabica in the world is grown in Kenya? The weather is never warmer than a summer in Europe with a temperature range of no more than 19°C. Rainfall is even throughout the year. It is these conditions that make Kenyan coffee so unique.

Coffee has been grown in Kenya for more than a century, since 1893. The total area under cultivation is estimated at 160 000 hectares, of which approximately one third is plantation and the rest smallholder land. Annual production has varied greatly due to climatic and socio-economic factors. At present, production is around one million bags of coffee per year, with most crops maturing between October and December and others maturing between May and July.


Almost all Kenyan coffee is processed by the wet method to ensure the highest possible quality. Growers select only red ripe fruit. The cherries are sorted before processing, and overripe or infected fruits are removed.

The next step is to crush the cherries, which breaks down the outer layer. The slimy pulp that remains on the fruit is removed by fermentation. This should take a maximum of 36 hours. After fermentation, the cherries are washed and then dried. During the drying process, the beans are rotated regularly to give them the bluish colour for which Kenyan coffee is famous.


Once completely dry, the coffee is bagged and ready to be sent to the mills. In Kenya, mechanical sorting of coffee according to the size, weight and shape of the bean is typical.

  • PB - Round Bean
  • AA - Large bean
  • AB - A and B series combinations
  • C - Bean smaller than
  • BE - Biggest bean
  • TT - Small grain
  • T - Smallest grain (usually broken and defective)

These categories are classified on the basis of a numerical reference system on a scale from 1 to 10.


SL28 and SL34 are the most common varieties found in Kenya. Their development occurred around the 1930s. Thanks to their specific flavour profiles, characterised by acidity with lemon notes, these varieties have achieved world renown.

As the name suggests, these varieties have been developed and modified. Scott Laboratories was involved in their creation. The most famous varieties are Bourbon, Batian and Ruiru 11.