Kenya Meru coffee hails from the Meru region, pronounced as "May-roo," situated on the eastern slope of Mount Kenya. With altitudes ranging between 1,350 to 1,750 meters above sea level, this region is known for its fertile volcanic soils and ample rainfall, which contribute to the exceptional quality of the coffee produced here. An interesting fact about the Meru region is that it is home to the Ameru people, who have a rich history and tradition of coffee farming.
Coffee farming in the Meru region dates back to the early 20th century, with the introduction of coffee plants by the British colonial government. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that coffee production began to flourish as the Ameru people embraced coffee cultivation as a primary economic activity. Over the years, the Meru region has established itself as a premium coffee-producing zone, earning recognition for its unique and high-quality beans, which are sought after by specialty coffee enthusiasts across the globe.
In the Meru region, coffee farming is primarily undertaken by smallholder farmers, who form cooperative societies to manage the processing and marketing of their beans. The farmers employ sustainable farming practices, such as intercropping coffee plants with other crops like bananas and legumes, which not only helps to maintain soil fertility but also provides additional income and food security for the farmers.While specific processing methods may vary among the cooperative societies in the Meru region, the most common method used in Kenya is the washed process. This entails the removal of the coffee cherry's pulp and skin, followed by fermentation to break down the remaining mucilage. The beans are then washed and spread out on raised drying beds to dry under the sun. This method helps to highlight the characteristic bright acidity and clean flavors found in Kenyan coffees.
Kenya Meru coffee is renowned for its vibrant acidity, medium body, and complex flavor profile. The beans typically exhibit fruity flavors such as blackcurrant, red berries, and citrus, alongside notes of florals and spices. The unique combination of altitude, climate, and volcanic soil in the Meru region contributes to the development of these distinct flavors, which set Meru coffee apart from other Kenyan coffee varieties.In addition to the fruity and floral notes, Meru coffee can also exhibit a pleasant wine-like quality, with a lingering sweetness that makes for a delightful and well-balanced cup. This exceptional taste profile makes Kenya Meru coffee a popular choice among specialty coffee enthusiasts, who appreciate the unique and vibrant flavors that this region has to offer.
While there are numerous cooperative societies and coffee farms in the Meru region, some notable ones include the Imenti and Gikirima Coffee Cooperatives, whose beans have consistently earned high scores in cupping evaluations and international coffee competitions. These cooperatives serve as prime examples of the exceptional quality and potential that Kenya Meru coffee holds within the specialty coffee industry.