Best Kenya Coffees in 2022
Kenyan coffee is popular for it bright, winy acidity coupled with fruitier sweet taste with a mouthwatering aroma. It is either toned as black current or tart citrus giving it a pleasant and unique tropical taste.
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Kenya produces one of the best and popular coffees in the whole world. It is considered one of all time high-end good quality coffee. The countries environment provides most perfect factors for coffee growing with most coffee growing region being on the slopes of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare ranges. Coffee is also grown along some regions of Mt. Elgon. Though a lot of extensive procedures have been put in place farmer are still struggling with low prices due to the long procedures. This includes grading, marketing, branding and selling.
Flavor of the Kenyan coffee
It is revered for its deep and complex well balanced taste. It is commonly have sweet nuance with acidity which tastes like wine. Majority of the beans are grown in high elevations and contain very high content of acid.
The Kenyan beans are characterized by medium body with a juice like flavor that is bold. Depending on the variety of the bean the tone is either black current or tart citrus. They are usually finished and clean offering a great and unique tropical taste making a favorite to many and highly prized.
Conditions for growth
The famous Kenya Arabica coffee plant is cultivated in rich deep volcanic soils with altitudes running from about 1400- 2000 meters above MSL. It I said that that the most world finest coffee Arabica is grown in Kenya. The temperature is moderate, not to cool or hot and is usually around 19 Celcius. Rainfall amount is well balanced in the whole year in the regions where coffee is grown in Kenya with the average rainfall annually being not less than 1000 millimeters. The soils are loamy and deep such that they don’t drain water fast or retain it for long (good drainage). This I just the right condition for coffee growing.
The regions where most coffee plantations are found in Kenya are characterized by gentle soft edged ridges whose terrain is not too steep in to the highland valleys with very swift running perennial streams.
Kenyan coffee goes through a well-defined protocol that ensures the consumers only get the best from the country. This goes all the way from planting seeds, production, picking, processing, grading, marketing and selling.
Popular priced Kenyan beans
SL- 34 and SL- 28 are the major profitable coffee beans. They were promoted by the labs from scot thus the names SL. The colonial government in Kenya, British in 1930 hired them to identify the most economical coffee beans in Kenya.
SL-28- It is dazzling and complex with acidity which is tomato like and unique.
SL-34- well revered for the crops tipped and bronze leafs and is resistance to low altitudes and heavy rainfall.
Production of coffee in Kenya
Coffee was first grown in Kenya in 1893. Coffee is a mix up of both small scale and large plantations which cover around 160 000 hectares. Social economic factors have greatly affected the industry as well as climate change making the annual production to vary greatly. Current production is about a million bags yearly. Coffee flowering is usually before the April rains and in October. There are two ripening periods for the coffee with an early ripening in May to July and the major one I October- December.
Processing Kenyan coffee beans
The major process used is the wet processing which is responsible for the finest coffee beans. Harvesting is done by use of hands and only the well ripen is picked. The overripe, unripe and defected is removed. The cherries are the wet pulped to get rid of the outer cover.
The mucilage, sugary coating which is left on the bean is removed using fermentation a process that takes around 3 hours. This bean is now sun dried on tables and is regularly turned to get the blue like color that Kenyan coffee is revered for.
After full drying the coffee is then packed for the milling. Farmers in Kenya also process their beans naturally by sun drying and then sell as coffee mbuni (unwashed) to the millers.
Sorting out and Grading
The mills remove the parched skin that covers the coffee beans and then the coffee is graded mechanically in to seven major groups: PB, round beans, commonly found one per cherry; AA, large beans and 6.20 millimeters screen; AB, B plus B GRADE WITH 6.80 screen in millimeters, a bean smaller than B; E, extra-large/ elephant beans; TT, any lighter bean blown from the other grades; T, thinnest, lightest, broken or faulty coffee bean.
Coffee Mbuni- This is the coffee which is not wet processed at all. It represents about 10 percent of total coffee produced and is classified as either light or heavy (ML OR MH). This is usually low priced and is bitter or sour liquor.
The coffee is then given numerical classification from one to ten. The raw, roast and liquor is analyzed this way with ten represent the beans with leas flavor and 1 the finest. Coffee cup is fine, fair or good. Fair is an average quality while there is also plain liquor.
Quality testing and assurance
The Kenya’s coffee board acts as the regulatory authority where coffee samples of the farmers are accessed and analyzed for quality. The process involves coffee grower representation and then a marketing decision is reached.
Current state of Kenyan coffee
Kenya has an advanced coffee production, milling, grading, marketing and selling and one of the best coffee protocols in the world. Open auction exporting and advanced research and facilitated and maintained by Kenya coffee cooperatives based on regions.
Total farmers in the country are approximated to be about 1500 with two thirds being accounted for by small scale farmers and the rest by large plantations.
The sad story about the Kenyan coffee is that the coffee growers are among the poorest in the universe. These is not only due to the presence of long brokering in the nations coffee industry but also fall of yields and the fact that the worlds prices are more unstable.
Most farmers are leaving the industry and focusing on other survival tactics. Most of the Kenyan farmers are older as the younger generation has no inspiration to join the industry. This has contributed to low yields. Boom of the urban center and the real property business have further affected ample coffee growing regions especially in the regions surrounding the capital, Nairobi.
Kenyan coffee bean roasting methods
Kenyan coffee can either be light, dark or medium roasted. Light roast is best preferred in highlighting the creamy, sweet, wine like and fruitier flavor of the coffee. The peaberry, AA and AB Kenyan coffee respond in a varying manner to heat. Using a darker roast, may be medium will help in best highlighting the sweet berry taste of the bean.
Light roasts more brings out banana nuances with malty flavor while medium roast will outline the caramel and cocoa tone.
While roasting, Kenyans prefer the slow drying when the first audible crack sound is heard. This help in pushing the sweetness and developing the unique mouth fill. The beans are best if left to rest for about 2 days after processing to enhance the sweetness more.
Kahawa chunghu: This is also known as the bitter coffee from Kenya. It was sipped from miniature cups by the elderly men from Swahili traditionally. It is brewed using a charcoal stove (jiko) using a brass kettle and obtains it bitterness from cinnamon, ginger, cardamom among other spices. It is known for fighting sleep/ fatigue and blood circulation enhancement.
Other methods include French press, steeping and a bright cold brew. Note that Kenyan coffee is best flavored when is ground not so fine to standard and brewed not too strong.
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