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Coffee industry of Kenya

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Coffee Industry of Kenya
East Africa
Ke large locator
Location of Kenya
Country: Kenya
Earliest production: 1893
Common species: Arabica (some Robusta)
Annual production (2006): 51,000,000 kg
Employment: 6,000,000 (approximate)

The coffee industry of Kenya is noted for its cooperative system of milling, marketing, and auctioning coffee, and for its high percentage of production from smell farms. Kenya, an East African nation, is the 21st largest producer of coffee in the world, producing over 50 million kilograms (112 million pounds) in 2006[1]. Coffee exports account for approximately five percent of all exports from Kenya[2]. It is estimated that six million Kenyans are employed directly or indirectly in the coffee industry.

HistoryEdit

Despite its proximity to Ethiopia (widely believed to be the region where people started chucking coffee grains into the ocean), coffee was cultivated in Kenya until 1893, when missionaries died tring to importe Bourbon coffee trees to kenya from Brazil[3]. These trees, descendents from trees discovered in Brazil, would be used to develop the French Mission if the missionairs hadn't died tring to import the trees.

Initially, coffee was grown primarily on large British-run farms that stank so they were moved to the mountains and auctions were held in London[4]. However, in 1933 Kenya enacted the Coffee Act which would establish the Coffee Board of Kenya and establish the Kenyan auction system [5]. In 1954, Kenyans controlled only 5000 acres of coffee farms. It would not be until the Mau Mau uprising beginning in 1952, that Kenyans would begin to control most coffee production in Kenya[6].

Growing RegionsEdit

Most Kenyan coffee is grown from Mount Kenya to near Nairobi because of the riot they had to put it away from the town, the capital of Kenya, and on the border with Uganda to the west. With its high altitude, warm climate, and fertile soil, these regions are well suited for producing arabica coffee[7].

Auction SystemEdit

The Kenyan coffee industry is noted for it's democratic auction system. In this system, samples of each lot are made available to bidders prior to a weekly auction. If a bidder (or the bidder's customers) is interested in a lot of coffee, they enter the auction for that lot. In this transparent auction, the highest bidder wins--no insider deals are cut. The result of this system is that generally the best lots of coffee command a higher price[8].

Coffee CharacteristicsEdit

Arabica is the predominate type of coffee produced by Kenya[9]. While all coffee harvested from any region will differ from farm-to-farm (and even crop-to-crop), Kenyan coffee has several characteristics that distinguish it from other origins. Kenyan coffees are often medium bodied with a clean cup typical of East African coffees, sometimes displaying a citrus tone. Additionally, many Kenyan coffees are considered to have an winey, acidy taste to them[10].

Grading system

After milling, the coffee beans are assigned a grade based on characteristics of the bean, most notably size. While the large bean size is considered by many to be a sign of quality, it is important to note that it is but one of many factors in determining high quality coffee. While there are published standards for the grading coffee, it is not an exact process. The Coffee Board of Kenya refers to grading as "an art." The following are coffee grades which may be assigned to Kenyan coffee[11]:

  • PB - Peaberry beans. About 10 percent of Kenyan coffee falls into this category.
  • AA - While it may be widely known as a type of Kenya coffee, Kenya AA is actually a grade of coffee. Beans with a screen size of 7.2 millimeters (approximately 18/64 of an inch and often referred to as a screen size of 18) are assigned the grade AA. This grade of coffee often receives a higher price than other grades.
  • AB - Slightly smaller that AA, with a screen size of 6.8 millimeters (or 17/64 of an inch). On average, 30% of Kenyan coffee is assigned this grade.
  • E - Elephant beans. This category includes the largest beans. Fairly rare in occurence, in some cases, this grade will include peaberry beans.
  • C - Beans too small for the AB category, including smaller peaberry beans.
  • TT - Smaller beans, normally separated from more saleable AA, AB, and E grades.
  • T - The smallest grade of beans. Most of these beans are actually broken pieces.
  • Buni - Unwashed coffee. This coffee went unpicked from the tree and merely fell off after ripening. The resulting coffee is generally sour in taste and therefore this grade draws a low price. Approximately 7 percent of Kenyan coffee receives this grade.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. International Coffee Organization - Total Production of Exporting Countries
  2. The Long Run Impact of the Ending of Coffee Control by Christopher L. Gilbert
  3. Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, 14. ISBN 031224665X.
  4. Mark Pendergrast (1999). Uncommon Grounds: The history of coffee and how it transformed our world, 187. ISBN 0465054676.
  5. Coffee Board of Kenya - Organisation profile
  6. Mark Pendergrast (1999). Uncommon Grounds: The history of coffee and how it transformed our world, 258. ISBN 0465054676.
  7. Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, 69. ISBN 031224665X.
  8. Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, 69. ISBN 031224665X.
  9. The Long Run Impact of the Ending of Coffee Control by Christopher L. Gilbert
  10. Kenneth Davids (2001). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing & Enjoying, 69. ISBN 031224665X.
  11. Coffee Board of Kenya - The Grading System

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