Roastery: Cebe Coffee Roasters
Country of origin: Kenya
Process type: Washed
Grind: Whole Bean
Package size, g: 250, 1000
Coffee in Kenya is typically traceable down to the factory, or mill level: Most farmers own between 1/8 to 1/4 of a hectare, and often grow crops other than coffee as well, which means they rely on a central processing unit for sale and processing of their coffee. Producers deliver in cherry form to a factory, where the cooperative will sort, weigh, and issue payment for the delivery. The coffee is then blended with the rest of the day’s deliveries and goes on to be processed. Because of this system, which serves many hundreds to several thoughts of smallholder farmers per factory, there is limited traceability down to the individual producers whose coffee comprises the lots.
CUP CHARACTERISTICS + VARIETIES
The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Kenyan coffee is “acidity,” but what we are looking for is not simply mouth-puckering brightness or one-note citric acid. Generally, we seek out complex, refined cups that show black currant, grapefruit or kaffir lime, mouthwatering notes of tomato or tamarind, and sparkling tropical fruit like pineapple. The famous SL varieties—SL-28 and SL-34—tend to be juicy and dynamic, while French Mission is typically a more creamy and citric cup.
A note about Kenyan “classic” varieties: The “SL” in SL-28 and SL-34 stands for Scot Laboratories, which had the greatest potential for success, both in terms of quality and cultivation. Scientists identified more than 40 trees of different types, giving them a number with “SL” for classification—these varieties are considered selections, not, strictly speaking “hybrids,” though many of them were the genetic offspring of cross-pollinated types and spliced cultivars.
A more modern variety and a direct result of hybridization is Ruiru 11, which is a combination of Timor Hybrid variety (an interspecific hybrid of Arabica and Robusta) and Rume Sudan, a cultivar that is resistant to coffee-berry disease, which is a common plight in the country. Ruiru 11 has been available for sale since 1986.