Regions of Note for Single Origin Coffees in Africa: Kenya

Posted on Mar 1, 2012

Regions of Note for Single Origin Coffees in Africa: Kenya

Although Kenya is next to Ethiopia, a funny fact is that Kenya did not start cultivating coffee until almost the 20th century. Then, the first coffee trees were brought over not from Europe or Asia but from Reunion, the island famous for its Bourbon types of coffee beans.

Many people the world over insist that Kenya is one of the best sources of coffee beans in the world, and it’s hard to debate them. But Kenya is listed here as an example of how to “read” many different coffee labels; it’s such an important skill for the coffee lover that we’re going to take the time to discuss Kenyan coffee grading here. Here are the orders of the Kenyan grades by price, highest to lowest:

  • AA – (a coffee grown over 6,600 feet above sea level; widely considered the best Kenya has to offer)
  • AB
  • C
  • PB
  • T
  • TT
  • UG1
  • UG2
  • UG3

Generally, the higher the grade, the larger the bean will be – though this is not the only factor in grading the quality of a Kenyan coffee bean.

If you are looking for single origin Kenyan coffee, pay attention to the major regions in Kenya that produce coffee, most of them in the high altitudes that surround Mount Kenya:

  • Kisii
  • Bungoma
  • Nakuru
  • Kericho
  • Nyanza
  • Aberdare Range

The acidic soil of Kenya makes it ideal for growing very flavorful Arabica beans, which is one of the reasons so many coffee lovers that understand the different type of beans will not refuse a cup of coffee from a single origin in Kenya.

There are some single origin coffees worth exploring more deeply:

K7: This is a Kenyan version of the French Mission bourbon coffee that is so popularly grown all along Africa’s eastern portions. This type of coffee is actually grown at a specific estate – the Legetet Estate – in Kenya, which makes it among the purest of the single origin coffees.

Bean description: The beans are resistant to coffee berry disease and is a hearty bean capable of growing at lower elevations as well. Many coffee lovers find that it produces a lovely aroma with a rich taste.

Kenyan Blue Mountain: You’ll hear about this variety, which actually originates in the Blue Mountains region of Jamaica, later on. As this variety is also grown in Kenya, it is worth mentioning here.