Kenya Coffee - Introduction
There are a number of famous coffee-producing regions in the world, and Kenya coffee ranks up with the best of them. Kenya is ranked the 17th largest coffee producer in the world, and it is well-known for its quality beans.
Where is it Grown?
There are several excellent coffee-growing regions in Kenya. The best Kenya coffee comes from the high plateau regions of Mount Kenya, but there are also great plantations in the Bungoma and Nakuru areas.
Most of the coffee that comes from Kenya is grown on small farms, with the entire industry employing around 6 million people across the country. There are more than half a million individual coffee plantations and farms in Kenya.
The Taste of Kenya Coffee
Taste can be a difficult thing to describe in words, especially to someone who has not had the chance to explore different varietals of world coffee. The flavour distinctions can be subtle.
Though each region can produce its own taste, overall Kenyan coffee is very bold taste and full body. It can have a high acid level, giving it a bright flavour. Many varietals have a noticeably fruity aroma, especially when lightly roasted. The same beans can take on a heavier caramelized flavour when roasted more darkly.
The Coffee Industry in Kenya
In 2005, Kenya exported coffee reached a peak of total of US$ 131 million.
The coffee industry is centered around a government-run auction system. Lots of coffee would be put up for bidding, and the highest paying buyer would purchase the lot. This enabled all the smaller-farms to have access to international trade, and to get the top dollar for their product. It has long been considered that the Kenyan auction system is one of the best ways to market coffee grown by smaller farms.
Unfortunately, this system has begun to break down over the past few years due to government inaction and internal corruption. The high prices paid for quality coffee are not getting to the small farmers and cooperatives. Dissatisfaction with the auction system is leading more farms to sell their coffee directly to buyers on an open market. Only time will tell if this change benefits either the buyers or the growers.
Coffee Grading System
Kenya has a detailed grading system to group coffee beans by quality and size. There are around 9 size grades, with AA being the largest (and therefore considered the best). Within each size grade, there is a class number given that refers to the quality of the beans. The classes range from 1 to 10, with 1 being the finest beans.
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