In the world of specialty coffee, Kenya is a name that holds significant weight. One of the country's lesser-known coffee-growing regions, however, is the Kisii region, pronounced as "Key-see." Located in the southwestern part of Kenya, near the border of Tanzania, the Kisii region sits at a high altitude of roughly 1,500 to 2,100 meters above sea level. Interestingly, the region's coffee production is mainly driven by small-scale farmers who contribute to the rich and complex flavors of Kenyan coffee.
Coffee has been grown in the Kisii region for over a century, with the first coffee trees being planted in the early 20th century. The introduction of coffee in the region was part of a larger effort by the British colonial government to establish cash crops in Kenya. Over the years, coffee production in Kisii has seen its fair share of challenges, including fluctuating global prices and the emergence of other cash crops. Despite these challenges, the region has persevered and continues to produce high-quality coffee beans that are cherished by specialty coffee enthusiasts worldwide.
The majority of coffee produced in the Kisii region comes from small-scale farmers, who typically have less than 1 hectare of land for coffee cultivation. These farmers are often part of cooperatives, which provide support in terms of agronomic training, access to inputs, and a collective platform for processing and marketing their coffee. While specific details about the farming and processing methods in the Kisii region are scarce, we can look at the general practices in Kenya to get an idea of how coffee is produced in this part of the world.In Kenya, coffee is typically grown under shade trees, which help to protect the plants from extreme temperatures and provide a more sustainable environment for the coffee trees. The coffee cherries are hand-harvested, ensuring that only the ripest cherries are picked. Once harvested, the coffee cherries are processed using the wet or washed method. This method involves the removal of the cherry's skin and pulp, followed by fermentation in water tanks to break down the remaining mucilage. The beans are then washed and spread out on raised drying beds to dry under the sun. This meticulous process contributes to the vibrant and clean flavors found in Kenyan coffee.
Coffees from the Kisii region are known for their well-rounded and balanced profiles. Typical flavor notes include blackcurrant, red berries, and tropical fruits, with a bright and lively acidity. The coffee also often exhibits a medium to full body, with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. These flavors make Kenyan Kisii coffee a popular choice for single-origin espresso and filter coffee enthusiasts alike. Its distinct taste profile sets it apart from other Kenyan coffees and makes it a must-try for those looking to explore the diverse world of specialty coffee.
Overall, the Kisii region of Kenya offers a unique and delectable coffee experience, rooted in a century-long history of coffee cultivation. Its high-altitude growing conditions, combined with the dedication of small-scale farmers and the distinctive processing methods used in Kenya, result in a coffee that is truly a treat for the senses. So, the next time you're seeking a new and exciting coffee adventure, look no further than the delightful flavors of Kenya's Kisii coffee.