Kenya Machakos (pronounced as "mah-cha-kos") coffee, a hidden gem of the coffee world, originates from the Machakos County in Kenya, East Africa. This region, with altitudes typically ranging from 1000 to 1600 meters above sea level, is known for its volcanic soils and cool, temperate climate, providing ideal conditions for coffee cultivation. An interesting fact about Machakos coffee is that unlike other Kenyan coffee regions, it is often overshadowed despite producing exceptional and unique coffee beans.
Coffee production in Machakos County dates back to the early 20th century, when British colonial settlers introduced the crop to the region. Although the region experienced a slow start in coffee production, the local farmers' persistent efforts in learning and adapting to coffee cultivation paid off. Today, Machakos is one of the 31 coffee-growing regions in Kenya, contributing to the country's reputation for producing some of the world's finest coffee beans.
While specific farming and processing methods may vary among Machakos coffee producers, there are some common practices in the region and Kenya as a whole. Most coffee farms in the region are small-scale, with farmers often owning less than a hectare of land dedicated to coffee cultivation. These farmers usually intercrop coffee plants with other crops such as maize, beans, and bananas, promoting biodiversity and improving the overall sustainability of their farming practices.In terms of processing, the most common method used in Kenya, including Machakos, is the wet or washed processing method. This method involves removing the coffee cherry's outer skin and pulp using a machine called a depulper, followed by fermenting the remaining beans in water for 12-48 hours to break down any residual mucilage. The beans are then washed and spread out on raised drying beds for sun-drying, which takes around 7-14 days. This meticulous wet processing method is known for producing clean, bright, and complex coffee flavors that Kenya is famous for.
Kenya Machakos coffee offers unique and distinct flavor profiles that set it apart from other Kenyan coffees. Due to the region's volcanic soils and high altitudes, Machakos coffee typically exhibits bright acidity and a medium to full body. The flavor notes of Machakos coffee can range from fruity, such as blackcurrant, grapefruit, and tropical fruits, to more savory flavors like tomato and bell pepper. This complex combination of flavors results in a well-rounded and balanced cup that leaves a lasting impression on the palate.
Although specific well-known farms and farmers in the Machakos region may not be widely recognized, the collective efforts of small-scale farmers in the region have significantly contributed to the growing reputation of Kenya Machakos coffee. These farmers are often members of cooperatives, which provide them with access to resources, training, and support for improving their coffee production. By working together and sharing their knowledge, the farmers of Machakos continue to produce high-quality coffee beans that are enjoyed by coffee enthusiasts worldwide.The Kenya Machakos coffee region's history, farming and processing methods, and unique tasting notes make it a fascinating and important part of the global specialty coffee landscape. As more coffee lovers discover the delights of Machakos coffee, the region will undoubtedly continue to grow in prominence and recognition.