I see you're keen to discover the wonders of Kenya coffee beans, and I'm thrilled to be your guide on this flavourful journey. After all, it is one of the best alongside Kona Coffee.
In this guide, I'll dive into the history of these remarkable beans and reveal the best places to buy them.
As a coffee barista, I can't wait to embark on this adventure with you. Together, we'll explore the unique taste profiles, the significance of Kenyan coffee in the global market, and its impact on local culture.
I'll also look at how this coffee is grown, harvested plus its unique characteristics.
Sounds like a lot, right? Don't worry; this is going to be fun. You are about to immerse yourself in the captivating world of Kenya coffee beans.
So buckle up, grab your favourite mug, so we can dive right in.
Where to Buy Kenya Coffee Beans in the UK (Online Brands)
Are you a fan of Kenyan coffee? And looking for the best places to buy these delightful beans in the UK? Allow me to point you in the right direction.
It would be really frustrating if you spent your money on subpar beans, right?
So, I've compiled a list of some of the top online Kenyan coffee brands that offer a variety of high-quality Kenyan coffee beans.
Horsham Coffee Roaster
Based in Sussex, Horsham Coffee Roaster is dedicated to providing fresh roasted coffee beans. Their diverse and carefully selected offerings show their passion for creating the best coffee experience.
Working directly with coffee farmers and cooperatives, they emphasise sustainability and traceability.
This approach ensures they source the finest beans, which are then roasted in small batches to bring out the flavours.
Horsham Coffee Roaster offers a remarkable Kianderi AA-washed Kenyan coffee option. When you indulge in this delightful coffee, you can expect tasting notes of blackcurrant, rhubarb, and sweet citrus that come together harmoniously.
This coffee is versatile and works well with all brewing methods. However, it's worth mentioning that espresso can be challenging due to its light roast and high acidity.
The brand recommends you brew as a filter coffee without milk, as it showcases the unique flavours of Kenyan coffee.
Have you heard of Hasbean? It's a UK-based online coffee retailer founded in 1999 by Steve Leighton, who's genuinely passionate about all things coffee.
You can tell that Steve's dedication to sourcing and roasting the finest beans has led Hasbean to build a solid reputation for quality and consistency.
Over the years, they've grown into a successful online business, offering an incredible selection of speciality coffees from around the world.
Hasbean offers up to four different Kenyan coffee editions. That's right! And to sweeten things up even more, these guys also have a Kenya Kiriga tasting pack.
It's great because each of these editions provides unique tasting notes, like blackcurrant, green apple, gooseberry, tangerine, and red grape.
So you can explore a variety of flavours and find the perfect Kenyan coffee to suit your taste buds.
Another great place to buy Kenyan coffee beans in the UK is Coffee Direct. It's one of the best Kenyan coffee brands UK , providing freshly roasted coffee to customers since 2007.
Founded by two coffee enthusiasts, James and Lewis, their main goal is to deliver the finest coffee straight to your door.
They source their beans from different countries, offering various flavours and origins to cater to different tastes.
Oh, like Hasbean, Coffee Direct also offers four different Kenyan coffee options for coffee lovers in the UK.
They've got Kenya Blue Mountain Coffee, Kenya AA Coffee, Kenya Reserve Coffee, and Kenya Peaberry Coffee.
Each option brings unique tasting notes and characteristics, ensuring you get some of the best Kenyan coffee beans available online in the UK.
I’ll also like to add that Kenyan coffee is one of the best coffee for pour over.
Well, these guys need no formal introduction in the coffee space. This is another online brand to buy Kenyan coffee beans in the UK.
Founded in 1942 by Harold Rees Higgins, this family-owned business has been dedicated to providing the finest coffee and tea for decades.
They're based in London and have a rich history of passion for quality and exceptional customer service. Their expertise in sourcing and roasting the best beans ensures a remarkable coffee experience for their customers.
They've been awarded the Royal Warrant by the Queen, which speaks volumes about their dedication to excellence in the coffee and tea world.
So, if you're looking for an amazing Kenyan coffee from H.R Higgins, check out their "Kenya Estate Coffee".
This coffee boasts delightful tasting notes of red berries, pineapple, strawberries, and cream.
The Bean Shop
The Bean Shop was established in 2003 by Lorna and John Bruce. This family-run business is actually located in the heart of Perth, Scotland.
Nonetheless, this brand has long spread its wings to other parts of the globe. And has been selling to the UK market for over a decade.
They're dedicated to offering high-quality, freshly roasted coffee sourced from the best coffee-producing regions worldwide.
They offer a fantastic Kenyan coffee option called "Kenya Kisii Estate Peaberry." It's one of the most affordable Kenyan coffee beans you can find online in the UK.
This coffee boasts a floral aroma upon grinding and features a gentle effervescent acidity that develops into prominent flavours of stone fruit and blackcurrant.
The lasting impression of this delicious coffee is a delightful caramel fruitiness on the finish.
What Is Kenyan Coffee
Kenyan coffee is a bean grown in the highlands of Kenya in East Africa. What makes it so special is the unique flavour and aroma that come from the rich volcanic soil, high altitude, and loads of rainfall.
They usually process it using the wet method, which means they remove the pulp and ferment the beans before drying them.
What you get from this process is a coffee with bright acidity and a complex sweetness that makes Kenya coffee beans one of the most sought-after brews in the world.
And hey, did you know that they grade it according to the size and quality of the beans? AA is the top-notch grade, while E is the lowest.
Now you know why Kenya coffee is such a big deal.
Kenyan Coffee History
Quality has always been at the heart of coffee farming in Kenya, with the first crop popping up in 1896. In 1933, the Coffee Act set the stage for the Kenyan Coffee Board, which started overseeing production, quality control, and auctioning.
In the 1930s, the Kenyan government got Scott Agricultural Laboratories (now called the National Agricultural Laboratories) to figure out and develop the best hybrids to grow.
They chose SL28 and SL34 from the Bourbon varietal, which is now famous for its complexity and acidity.
The British colonial government set up the Laboratories in Kenya in 1922. They did agricultural research, gave technical advice, and trained farmers for the Department of Agriculture.
In 1934, they moved the Coffee Section to the Laboratories and dedicated 24 acres just for coffee. Kenya's coffee industry revolves around a weekly, government-run, open auction system, which started because of the 1933 Coffee Act.
These auctions at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange are considered the most transparent system for quality green coffees worldwide, inspiring the Cup of Excellence auctions.
Kenya is also known for its unique grading system, where coffee beans are graded based on size, shape, and quality. In 2006, new legislation allowed coffee sales to be negotiated between producers and buyers instead of the compulsory auction platform.
Today, about 60% of Kenya's coffee is produced by cooperatives. How cool is that?
What Does Kenyan Coffee Taste like
Grown at high elevations on Kenya's plateaus, some of the world's finest premium gourmet coffees are produced.
These beans give you a full-bodied brew with a pleasant acidity, rich flavour, and fragrant aroma with hints of floral notes. They don't call it the "Connoisseurs Cup" for nothing!
Take a moment to savour the incredible, almost intoxicating blackcurrant undertones in the flavour and aroma. One of the reasons Kenyan coffee is considered among the top five coffees in the world is its unique and distinct flavours.
You'll also love the winey aftertaste with hints of berry and citrus. Usually wet-processed, Kenyan coffee is known for its bold character and intense sweetness. It's one of the best coffee beans in the UK.
And guess what? The flavours can vary quite a bit between regions, with each county putting its spin on Kenya's highly praised beans.
Most coffee you buy online would be great, but it might be a bit tricky (or even impossible) to pinpoint the specific region it comes from.
What do you think about the taste from a personal perspective; does it sound like sweet music to your ears? As I'll always say to my coffee lover lads, you'll never know if you don't try.
Alright, let's jump right into where these coffee beans are grown. Yes, I'm talking about the regions.
Most Popular Kenya Coffee Growing Regions?
It all started in 1889 when Roman Catholic Fathers grew the first coffee plants at St Austin's near Nairobi. Since then, it has become popular and a major export for Kenya.
They mainly grow Arabica and Robusta, with Arabica being a top-quality, mild coffee that's perfect for blending.
So, where exactly do they grow coffee in Kenya? Let's have a look at these Kenya coffee zones:
Comprising Kiambu, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, and Muranga Counties, this area is the traditional coffee-growing hub of Kenya.
Producing around 60% of the country's coffee, it boasts rich agricultural land, and farmers grow coffee on small and large farms on the slopes of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare Ranges.
The fertile volcanic soils contribute to the exceptional quality of the coffee. Muran'ga, Kiambu, and Thika produce coffee with a well-rounded acidity and grapefruit taste, while Kirinyaga and Nyeri yield a sharp citrus acidity, full body, and blackcurrant and chocolate notes.
This diverse region includes Meru Central, Embu, Machakos, Tharaka-Nithi, and Makueni Counties, featuring agroecological zones and agricultural activities.
Machakos and Makueni Counties, known for their hilly landscapes and arid and semi-arid climates, are home to Iveti, Kangundo, and Mbooni Hills, where coffee is grown.
The coffee industry is crucial to the economies of these counties, providing income and employment to many families.
The Rift-Valley Region
Renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, the Rift Valley stretches from the Middle East through Africa, reaching Mozambique.
Recently, local communities of livestock keepers and maize farmers have been transitioning into coffee farming, with the youth and women leading the charge.
Coffee is grown in the highlands west of Rift Valley, including Nakuru, Nandi, Kipkelion, Trans Nzoia, and Baringo.
The area's young volcanic soils and mild temperatures contribute to a cup profile with medium acidity, full body, fruity overtones, and a rich chocolate taste.
This region consists of Bungoma, Vihiga, and Kakamega Counties, where agriculture forms the backbone of the local economy. These beans are grown on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, with a bright acidity with fruity overtones characteristic of high altitudes.
Vihiga County, in particular, has favourable ecological conditions for coffee growing, including acidic soils, sunlight, and the right temperature and rainfall.
On the other hand, trans-Nzoia is Kenya's 'corn belt' and produces coffee with sharp citrus acidity and a full body.
Nyanza's coffee-growing areas include Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, and Kisumu Counties.
Kisii and Nyamira counties are among the most densely populated in Kenya, with average land sizes not exceeding 0.25 acres. The agriculturally rich Kisii Highlands benefit from high and reliable rainfall.
The coffee produced in this region has a medium acidity, a medium body that is smooth and creamy, and flavours that are sweet, nutty, and toasty with some fruity hints.
Well, it's obvious that the farmers in each of those regions put a lot of work into growing the beans we all enjoy.
Characteristics Of Kenyan Coffee
You know, one thing that makes Kenyan coffee so special is its unique set of characteristics.
Kenyan coffee is known for its bright acidity. However, its zesty, wine-like quality stands out and adds a refreshing kick to your cup.
Another thing you'll notice is the complex sweetness in Kenyan coffee. It's not just a simple sugary taste; it's layered with fruity and floral notes, which makes it so fascinating to explore.
The body of Kenyan coffee is typically full and rich, which means it feels smooth and creamy on your palate. So when you take a sip, you can appreciate the various flavours in perfect harmony.
Some of these flavour notes include blackcurrant, chocolate, and even citrus. It's like a symphony of deliciousness in every cup.
But that's not all. The aroma of Kenyan coffee is equally captivating. It's infused with floral tones that awaken your senses and create an unforgettable experience.
So, it comes as no surprise that these beans are some of the best coffee beans UK.
Recommended Brew Methods for Kenya Coffee
Kenyan coffee is fantastic, and there are a few different ways you can brew it to bring out the best in those beans. So let me share my top three methods: Kahawa chungu, steeping, and cold brew.
Interestingly, Kenyans usually prefer tea over coffee. But this traditional coffee is Kahawa Chunghu, or Kenyan Bitter Coffee, popular among elderly Swahili men.
It's brewed in a tall brass kettle over a charcoal stove and gets its bitterness from spices like ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon.
They often enjoy it with dates or other sweet treats to balance the flavours. Some even say it's an aphrodisiac because it helps with blood circulation and alertness.
These beans are a good choice for filter coffee because the delicate flavour characteristics of this coffee growing country complement brew methods such as the French Press, Chemex, V60, Aeropress.
If you want to appreciate the subtle flavours of this coffee, try steeping methods like using a French Press or an AeroPress.
I recommend brewing these beans a bit stronger and grinding them slightly finer than usual to highlight their bright and acidic nature.
Cold Brew with a Bright Flavour
I'm a big fan of cold brew, so I love that these coffee beans also work great for cold brews. Cold brewing preserves the delicate floral and fruity notes of the beans. This makes it perfect for showcasing the juicy flavours of Kenyan coffee.
Now, how do you go about this?
Just steep ground coffee in cold water for 18 to 24 hours to make a cold brew, then strain out the grounds. You can use a French Press and a fine sieve to get the job done.
So, have you tried Kenya coffee with any of the methods I mentioned? If the answer is no, you should try one of these brewing methods.
Don't worry. You can always come back to take me later. But, hey, you're welcome in advance.
How Is Kenyan Coffee Grown
So, how exactly are the speciality coffee beans grown? I think it's quite an interesting one. The coffee plants are cultivated at high altitudes, ranging from 1,400 to 2,000 meters above sea level.
These heights are found in the volcanic soils on plateaus near the snow-capped Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare Range foothills.
Because of the high elevation, Kenyan coffee earns the Strictly High Grown (SHG) and Strictly Hard Bean (SHB) labels. The great thing about growing at these heights is that the coffee plants develop slowly, giving the beans plenty of time to soak up all the necessary nutrients.
The coffee-growing region stretches from the 17,000-foot Mt. Kenya down towards Nairobi, the capital. There's also a smaller coffee region near the border with Uganda, around the hills of Mt. Elgon.
Kenya's coffee regions are Ruiri, Thika, Kirinyaga, Mt. Kenya West, Nyeri, Kiambu, and Muranga. So if you source the coffee directly, you can tell the difference between beans from each region.
And something I find amazing is that these prime coffee-growing areas are home to a wide range of native forest ecosystems, which support loads of different wildlife species.
There are loads of small farms, cooperatives, and larger estates involved, with about six million Kenyans participating in coffee production.
Most farms have 50-500 trees, but did you know that in some South American countries, a small farm might have up to 10,000 trees on just 1-2 hectares?
What sets Kenya apart is their cooperative system for milling and marketing coffee. They even hold auctions every Tuesday during the harvest season. This market system has been around for decades and spans generations.
Thanks to this efficient system, most Kenyan farmers simply sell their coffee to large buyers or processing stations, regardless of the beans' quality. The coffee gets sorted, but it's pretty tough to distinguish between specific lots and microlots.
During the peak season, buyers, traders, and exporters have the daunting task of cupping more than 150 cups daily to determine the right price for each coffee batch.
The Kenyan coffee market's size and complexity pose a challenge for coffee companies looking to source beans directly and ethically.
Ideally, they would work directly with farmers or cooperatives to create partnerships and ensure a consistent, traceable output.
However, this requires significant time and effort on the ground, making it impractical for most companies. I'll say it's quite the predicament.
How Is Kenya Coffee Harvested
The whole process starts when the coffee plants flower after the rains, typically in March and April.
Then, the coffee cherries (the fruit containing the coffee beans) ripen from May to July and again in September and October. The majority of Kenya's coffee cherries become ripe between October and December.
The high plateau regions around Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare Range have acidic soils, perfect for growing these coffee beans. Some of these beans are also grown in places like Nyanza, Kisii, Bungoma, Kericho, and Nakuru.
The coffee plants themselves, which are the Arabica varietals, were originally introduced in Ethiopia. Quite the journey for these coffee plants, isn't it?
How To Buy Kenya Coffee
At the end of this article, I'd love to see you try these coffee beans for yourself.
But before you do that, I'd like to share some things you should look out for when buying premium grade Kenya coffee beans.
Kenyan coffee is graded based on the size and shape of the beans, with the highest grade being AA, followed by AB, PB, C, E, TT, and T.
Now, it's generally true that larger beans have more flavour and aroma than smaller ones, but remember, there can be exceptions depending on how the coffee is roasted and brewed.
Speaking of roasting, picking the roast level that suits your taste buds is important. For example, a light roast keeps more of the beans' original flavour and acidity, whereas a dark roast will give you a bolder, more bitter taste.
But if you don't mind something in between, you should settle for a medium roast. It will give you that balanced coffee experience.
I'd recommend going for a reputable online brand or store or even a speciality store focusing on African coffees when you want to buy.
Before purchasing, check out the seller's reviews and ratings. Also, keep an eye out for certifications like Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance to ensure ethical and sustainable practices.
Once you've got your hands on those delightful Kenyan coffee beans, proper storage is key. You can pop them in some of the best coffee storage containers in the UK.
Ensure you keep them away from heat, light, and moisture to maintain their freshness and flavour.
Kenyan Coffee Statistics & Facts
I'm sure you've gotten a good grasp of the crux of the discussion up to this point. But hey, I just have to share these amazing facts about Kenya coffee beans.
And I could bet a bag of our Stability blend that you probably didn't know about them before now.
#Fact 1: Kenyan coffee beans are rated as one of the world's five best coffees
Yes, it's true! Kenya AA coffee has earned its place among the world's finest thanks to its incredible array of flavours and aromas and a distinct aftertaste that outshines many other speciality coffees.
#Fact 2: Kenyan coffee has SHG/SHB status
Kenyan coffee beans have a special status – both Strictly High Grown (SHG) and Strictly Hard Bean (SHB). This is because they're grown at high elevations of 1,400-2,000 meters in the mountains, contributing to their exceptional quality.
#Fact 3: There are five different Kenyan coffee varietals
There are five distinct varieties of Kenyan Arabica beans, each with unique properties. These include SL-28, SL-34, K7, Ruiru 11, and Batian.
For instance, SL-28 can thrive with less rainwater than SL-34. While K7 may not produce coffee as delicious as the first two, it has a higher resistance to coffee berry disease.
#Fact 4: Coffee from Kenyan Is Rare Because Of Low Production
Kenyan coffee is quite rare due to its low production levels. It's not just the price that makes it seem exclusive.
Kenya doesn't produce as much coffee as some coffee-growing countries because it's grown on a smaller land area. Consequently, the overall output is lower than you might expect.
Interestingly, despite the Kenyan population not consuming much coffee, the amount produced is still limited enough to be considered a rarity. So, when you enjoy a cup of Kenyan coffee, you're not just savouring its exquisite taste but also appreciating its exclusivity.
#Fact 5: Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee beans are quite similar
Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee beans taste quite similar. This is because the SL-28 varietal of Kenyan coffee originally comes from Ethiopia.
As a result, Kenyan coffee can often be closely compared to Ethiopian Harrar roasts.
Frequently Asked Questions
I've shared quite a lot about Kenyan coffee, so I won't be surprised if you have some questions right now.
You can leave your questions or thoughts in the comment section, and I'll do my best to answer them.
But for now, I've put together some frequent questions I've been asked about Kenyan coffee to address any lingering curiosities you might have.
Is Kenya Coffee Roasted Light Or Dark?
When roasting Kenyan coffee, you can choose light, medium or dark, depending on your taste. Lighter roasts retain more original bean flavours, while darker ones give you a richer, more intense experience.
Is Kenya coffee low acid?
No, Kenyan coffee is not low in acid. Instead, it's known for its bright, crisp acidity, contributing to its unique and complex flavour profile. The acidity is desirable, making Kenyan coffee distinct from other origins.
How much coffee does Kenya produce?
As for production, Kenya churns out around 40,000 metric tonnes of coffee annually. It may sound like a lot, but it's quite small compared to other coffee-producing countries, making Kenyan coffee a prized speciality.
Is Kenyan Coffee Arabica Or Robusta?
Kenyan coffee primarily consists of Arabica beans. Known for their high quality and complex flavour profiles, coffee connoisseurs worldwide seek Arabica beans from Kenya due to their distinct taste and aromatic qualities.
Is Kenyan Coffee Stronger Than Regular Coffee?
If you're asking whether Kenyan coffee is stronger than regular coffee, it really depends on how you define "strength." While it boasts a bold, vibrant flavour, its caffeine content resembles other Arabica coffees.
Is Kenya Coffee Handpicked?
Yes, Kenyan coffee is handpicked. Skilled workers selectively pick only the ripe coffee cherries, ensuring the highest quality beans are harvested. This labour-intensive process contributes to the exceptional quality and flavour of Kenyan coffee.
Is Kenya Coffee Dark Roast?
Kenyan coffee can be roasted to various levels, including dark roast. Typically, these coffee beans are light roasted to highlight the regional characteristics of the coffee. However, they can be roasted dark if preferred. So, yes these beans are some of the best dark roast coffee beans in the UK.
Where does Kenyan Coffee come from?
These coffee beans are grown in the high-altitude regions surrounding Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Range. The fertile volcanic soil, abundant rainfall, and favourable climate conditions contribute to Kenyan coffee's distinct flavour profile and high quality.
Where is Kenyan coffee grown?
Kenyan coffee is grown in various regions, including Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Murang'a, etc. The high-altitude areas surrounding Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Range provide optimal growing conditions for coffee plants, resulting in high-quality beans.
Does Kenya coffee have caffeine?
Yes, Kenyan coffee contains caffeine. Like all Arabica coffees, Kenyan coffee beans naturally have caffeine. However, the amount of caffeine in this coffee will depend on factors such as roast level, brewing method, and serving size.
How much caffeine is in Kenya coffee?
The caffeine content in Kenyan coffee is comparable to other Arabica coffees. But several factors, like roast level, brewing method, and serving size, will affect the exact caffeine content in a cup of Kenyan coffee.
Is Kenya coffee good for you?
Like other types of coffee, Kenyan coffee has potential health benefits when consumed in moderation. It contains antioxidants and may help improve cognitive function, reduce the risk of some diseases and boost metabolism.
The rich flavours and unique characteristics of Kenyan coffee beans have captured the hearts of coffee enthusiasts across the UK and beyond.
With a wide range of options from some of the best online coffee shops in the UK, you're sure to find the perfect Kenyan coffee to satisfy your taste buds.
So, go ahead and explore the delightful world of Kenyan coffee beans from the comfort of your own home and experience the unparalleled taste that has made this coffee a favourite among connoisseurs.
But before we close the curtain today, I have a question for you. Have you plugged into the best coffee subscription in the UK?
Yes, I’m talking about our speciality coffee subscription that delivers fresh healthy coffee right to your doorstep.
Cheers to your next amazing cup of high-quality Kenya coffee!