Kenyan coffee is probably one of the most valued and demanded of African coffees. It is arabica coffee grown on a rich volcanic soil in thr highlands of the country. More than 700,000 people are employed in the coffee production. The majority are smallholders organised in cooperatives to which they sell their coffee cherry. The rest are either coffee estates (around 4,000) that have their workers, picker, wet and dry mill to process and sell their own coffee directly.
Coffee is Kenya’s fourth leading foreign exchange earner after tourism, tea and horticulture. It is estimated that in Kenya 160,000 hectares are under coffee, 75.5 per cent of which is in the co-operative sub-sector and 24.5 per cent in the estates.
The majority of the planted land is owned by small farmers but coffee estate produce up to 50% of the coffee production because of more intensive use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and irrigation.
Kenya has two coffee harvests. The main crop is harvested from September to December and the fly crop, from March to July.