Kenya Embu coffee (pronounced "em-boo"), hails from the Embu region nestled at the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya. With an altitude ranging from 1000 to 1700 meters (or about 3280 to 5500 feet) above sea level, this region is known for coffee cultivation that results in bright, complex, and fruity flavors. An interesting fact about Embu coffee is its rich volcanic soil, which contributes to its distinctive taste.
Coffee cultivation in the Embu region dates back to the early 1900s, when British colonizers introduced coffee plants to local farmers. Since then, Embu has grown into a prominent coffee-producing region in Kenya, with some of the oldest coffee cooperatives in the country. The coffee industry in Embu played a significant role in the region's economic growth, providing employment opportunities and improving the living standards of local farmers.
In the Embu region, coffee farming is primarily done on small-scale farms, with each farmer tending to a few hundred coffee trees. Due to the hilly terrain and the region's high altitude, coffee plants grow under shade trees, which provide protection from direct sunlight and help maintain soil moisture. Coffee farmers in Embu take great pride in their work and pay close attention to the cultivation and harvesting processes. Typically, most of the coffee in Kenya, including Embu, is processed using the wet or washed method. Once the coffee cherries are harvested, they are de-pulped to remove the outer skin, leaving the beans covered in a sticky mucilage. The beans are then fermented in water-filled tanks for 12 to 48 hours, depending on the climate and altitude. The fermentation process breaks down the mucilage, making it easier to wash off the beans. After washing, the beans are spread out on raised drying beds, allowing air to circulate around them, and are left to dry for 7 to 15 days. Once the beans reach the desired moisture level, they are milled to remove the parchment layer and are graded by size, density, and color.
Kenya Embu coffee is known for its bright acidity, medium to full body, and a complex flavor profile. The volcanic soil, higher altitude, and most common processing methods contribute to the unique flavors found in coffees of this origin. Common tasting notes include blackcurrant, red berries, tropical fruits, citrus, and floral undertones. Other roasts boast notes of rhubarb, earthiness, and a rather berry-like finish. These coffees can also exhibit a wine-like quality in their acidity and a long, lingering aftertaste. The flavors found in Embu origin coffee make it an exciting and sought-after choice for specialty coffee enthusiasts like us!
Kenya Embu coffee's exceptional quality is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the region's coffee farmers. By continuing to refine their farming and processing techniques, these farmers ensure that each cup of Embu coffee provides a memorable and delightful experience for coffee lovers worldwide. Feel free to check your local specialty shop to see if they're carrying any single origin Embu coffees next time you drop by!