Kenya is a country in East Africa and well known for its coffee production. Kenyans drink the most coffee in the world per capita, and it’s their second largest export after tea. Kenyan coffees are also among the top five best-selling coffees in Europe.
They come from different regions, but all share a distinctive character. Let’s take a closer look at some of Kenya’s best coffees:
Notes Best Kenyan Coffees
1. AA – (Also known as Wush Wush)
– With a bright, honeyed flavor profile and a smooth, clean finish, you might think Oregon Oregon when tasting this coffee from Kenya’s Central Province. It is actually grown by the Mbeere people at 1400 meters above sea level in the Muranga District, which is located right in the center of the country.
– It is the top grade of coffee in Kenya, and represents about 20% of Kenya’s total annual production.
– AA stands for “Arusha Aroma” since this type of coffee was originally named after the city where it was first exported from – Arusha, Tanzania.
– The taste has been compared to dried apricots, sweet prunes, figs, currants and brown sugar.
– Beans are medium-sized with a distinctive waxy appearance.
2. AB – (Also known as Wamuru)
– This coffee is an excellent example of Kenya’s classic cup profile, with a big body and vibrant acidity. Grown in the Kericho region in southwest Kenya at 1700 meters above sea level, this coffee has a medium to heavy body and a flavor reminiscent of baked raisins and sweet plums. This is a great coffee for French press, drip or espresso brewing.
– AB stands for “Akagera Aroma”, referring to the river that flows through that region of Kenya.
– The coffee is grown at high altitudes (about 1700 meters) in the Rift Valley.
– Coffee trees are planted on steep slopes and shaded with rainforest trees like molasses, eucalyptus and pigeon peach.
– Akagera coffee is widely known as Africa’s “champagne” due to the fine carbonation that releases aromatics in the cup.
– The best coffee beans are larger, rounder and paler than other Kenyan varieties – some consider them creamier. Other grades of Akagera coffee include AB 1, AB 2 and AB 3.
3. PB – (Also known as Nyeri)
– Grown in the central highlands around Mount Kenya at altitudes of 2300 meters above sea level, this coffee is characterized by a slightly acidic flavor with a full body. Similar tasting coffees from this area are often described as being “bright”, with hints of peach or apricot.
– PB stands for Pumaini Estate – the plantation that first started growing this special coffee.
– The estate is located in the Nyeri District near Mount Kenya.
– This is a great breakfast coffee and an excellent choice when making pour-over or French press coffee.
– A peculiarity of the PB is that the beans are very large and round compared to most Kenyan coffee beans.
4. SL – (Also known as Yattoo)
– Another variety from Central Kenya, this is a relatively new type of coffee that emerged in 2003.
It is a mutation of the much more common SL 28.
– SL stands for “Sidamo Low grown”.
– It is a tasty coffee with a full body and gentle acidity.
– The taste has been compared to berries, tea leaves and nuts.
– Yattoo also tends to have the largest bean size in the SL series.
– The coffee grows at an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level, on volcanic slopes near Mount Kenya.
5. Ruiru 11 – (Also known as Tegu)
– This is another relatively new type of coffee that was developed by crossing SL 28 with Bourbon varietal plant seeds.
– The result is a coffee that has a fuller body and slightly less acidity than SL 28.
– Ruiru 11 was originally developed by the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya, hence its other name – Tegu.
– In terms of cup flavor, it has been described as being similar to walnuts or pecans, with a cocoa finish.
– It is grown in the Ruiru district, west of Mount Kenya at an altitude of 1400 meters above sea level.
6. SL 28 – (Also known as Borona)
– This is one of the most common types of Kenyan coffee and accounts for about 60% of total annual production.
– It is grown at altitudes of 1200 to 2100 meters above sea level in the Nyandarua district west of Mount Kenya.
– SL 28 beans are round, medium sized and dark green in color. They have a well-balanced acidity with a full body. The taste has been described as being flowery or fruity, with lush aromas.
– This coffee is grown on the slopes of Mount Kenya, in areas where it gets plenty of rainfall.
7. SL 34 – (Also known as Thiis)
– Grown at elevations between 1600 and 2200 meters above sea level near Mount Kenya, this type of coffee has a deep aroma with flavors of bergamot orange.
– The medium sized beans are greenish yellow in color, similar to Ruiru 11 beans.
– Cup flavor has been described as being woody or earthy, with hints of spice and chocolate.
Kenyan coffee is very tasty and pleasant, not just because of its fruity flavors but also distinct notes of molasses, chocolate or nuts.
Even though this isn’t the cheapest type of coffee out there, it’s definitely one that is worth trying once in a while – especially knowing where your money goes!