Kenya Kiambu coffee, pronounced as kee-ahm-boo, hails from the Kiambu County in central Kenya, just north of Nairobi. The coffee-growing region boasts an altitude of approximately 1,600 to 2,100 meters above sea level. An interesting fact about this region is that it is one of the oldest and most well-established coffee-growing areas in Kenya, known for producing some of the finest beans in the world.
The history of coffee cultivation in the Kiambu region dates back to the early 20th century, during the British colonial era. Around 1910, British settlers introduced the first coffee trees to the area, and by the 1930s, the region had become a thriving coffee-growing community. Over the years, the Kiambu coffee industry has evolved, with smallholder farmers and large estates working together to maintain the region's reputation for producing top-quality beans.
In the Kiambu region, coffee is typically grown by smallholder farmers who own less than two hectares of land. These farmers mainly grow SL28 and SL34 Arabica varieties, which are known for their exceptional cup quality and bright acidity. The area's rich volcanic soil, high altitude, and favorable climate contribute to the unique characteristics of the beans produced here.While specific farming and processing methods may vary among farmers in the Kiambu region, the majority of Kenyan coffee is processed using the washed method. This involves depulping the coffee cherries to remove the outer skin and some of the fruit, followed by fermentation to break down the remaining mucilage. The beans are then washed and soaked in clean water before being spread out on raised drying beds to dry in the sun.This meticulous washed processing method, combined with the region's ideal growing conditions, results in a coffee that is consistently clean, bright, and complex in flavor.
Kenya Kiambu coffee is renowned for its vibrant, fruity, and wine-like flavors. The high acidity of the beans, attributed to the region's altitude and volcanic soil, imparts a bright and lively character to the cup. Typical tasting notes for Kiambu coffee include blackcurrant, red berries, grapefruit, and tropical fruit, often accompanied by a sweet, molasses-like undertone.The coffee's medium to full body and long, lingering finish make it a standout choice for coffee enthusiasts seeking a unique and memorable experience.
One notable farm in the Kiambu region is the Gachatha Coffee Factory, which was established in 1965 and is now managed by the New Gikaru Farmers Cooperative Society. This cooperative consists of more than 1,000 smallholder farmers who are dedicated to producing high-quality coffee through sustainable farming practices. Gachatha has received numerous accolades for its exceptional beans, including placing in the top ten at the Cup of Excellence competition.
Another noteworthy farm is the Nyeri Hill Estate, which has been producing coffee since the early 20th century. The farm's dedication to quality and innovation has earned it a reputation for producing some of the finest beans in the region.Overall, Kenya Kiambu coffee is a true gem in the world of specialty coffee, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for those who have the opportunity to taste it. Its rich history, exceptional growing conditions, and meticulous processing methods all contribute to the distinct flavor profile that sets it apart from other coffees.