Kenyan coffee beans are traditionally exported for processing at various destinations. The high-quality coffee is used to blend beans from other destinations. The export of coffee as a commodity does not accord it distinctiveness.
The coffee industry has been one of the key pillars of Kenya’s economy since independence from Britain in 1963. The sector has been a significant earner of foreign exchange for the economy and provider of jobs.
Kenyan coffee is well known for its intense flavor, full body, and pleasant aroma with notes of cocoa. Coffee from Kenya is of the ‘mild arabica’ type that is used around the world by blenders and roasters to boost the quality of their blends.
Kenyan Coffee has distinctly bright acidity and potent sweetness with a dry winy aftertaste. Among the best Kenya coffee, one can find intoxicating black-currant flavor and aroma, according to the Coffee Board of Kenya
The coffee industry in Kenya is noted for its cooperative system of production and processing. About 60-70 percent of coffee is produced by small scale holders.
The major coffee growing regions in Kenya are the High Plateaus around Mt. Kenya, the Aberdares Range and some parts of Nyanza and Rift Valley. The high plateaus of Mount Kenya, plus the acidic soil provide excellent conditions for growing coffee.
A total of 150,000 hectares of arable land in Kenya is planted with coffee.
Kenya today produces over 40,000 metric tons of clean coffee annually compared to the best time ever which was in 1989 when it hit 130,000 metric tons. 90 percent of this coffee passes through the National Coffee Exchange (NCE0 before accessing the export market with only 10 percent finding its way to the international market through direct sales.
Kenyan coffee beans are traditionally exported for processing in other countries. This premium Kenyan product is used to blend beans from other destinations.
According to the Coffee Directorate, only 3 percent of coffee is processed locally while the rest is exported raw. The 3 percent is processed by roasting and packaged locally in retail packs. This is what is consumed in the domestic market.
In 2010, local coffee consumption stood at 509.90 metric tons but rose in 2017 to 1,051.2 metric tons which translate to three percent of the total production.
Before one can export coffee, they must register as an exporter with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) who issues a phytosanitary certificate. Export of coffee in Kenya is regulated by the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA)- Coffee Directorate.
All exporters are required to obtain a phytosanitary certificate from Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and an International Coffee Organization (ICO) certificate of origin issued by Coffee Directorate through the Kenya National TradeNet System (KESWS).
A coffee movement permit is also required when the trader is moving the coffee from a warehouse to the point of exit. That said, here are the biggest coffee exporters in Kenya:
1. Dormans Ltd
Dorman Ltd was founded in 1950 and has become Kenya’s leading coffee roaster and exporter, with a reputation for quality that is unsurpassed. The company’s customer base includes major users of coffee and prestigious gourmet roasters all around the world.
2. Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters Limited (KCCE)
Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters Limited (KCCE) is a coffee exporting organization established by some key co-operatives to create linkages between the smallholder Kenyan coffee producers and the world market, through a consistent, shorter and transparent supply chain.
In the year 2009, small scale coffee farmers put their synergies together through their co-operative societies and established KCCE to explore end-to-end farming, processing, and marketing of their produce and to maximize their returns.
Some of the co-operatives involved in creating KCCE include; Othaya Farmers’ Co-operative Society, Boma Farmers’ Co-operative Society, Aguthi Farmers’ Co-operative Society, Rumurika Farmers’ Co-operative Society, Kambusu Farmers’ Co-operative Society etc.
3. Mwangi Coffee Exporters
Mwangi Coffee Exporters Limited was established in 1968 by A.S. Zubedi and F.J. Mwangi as quality Coffee, spice and tea exporter to the Gulf Region, Europe, and America. With a strong family tradition of coffee, spices, and tea exporting in its veins.
Mwangi Coffee has re-branded itself into one of the leading Coffee, Tea and Spice exporters in Kenya.
Based in Mombasa, Mwangi Coffee Exporters operates Coffee farms, Coffee roasting plants, and Warehouses that ensure quality coffee production and supply. Its export production includes Coffee, Tea, and Species that also fall under the Mwangi Coffee brand.
4. Rockbern Coffee Group
Rockbern Coffee Group is a limited company in Kenya with vast interest in farming. The company owns vast coffee estates in Kirinyaga County at the slopes of Mount Kenya.
The organization is registered by the Coffee Board of Kenya to market, sell and export green and roasted coffee beans.
5. Sannex Coffee
Sannex Coffee unit is one of Kenya’s licensed coffee dealer, exporters, and roasters with a reputation for quality that is unsurpassed. The company customer’s base targets major coffee consumers in local urban centers, Europe, America, and Asia.
6. Rashid Moledine & Co. Ltd
Rashid Moledina has been a trusted and respected name in global coffee trading circles for more than three-quarters of a century.
As one of the pioneering companies that have aggressively promoted Kenya’s coffee abroad, Rashid Moledina continues to maintain a strong affection for coffee. Today, it is considered Kenya’s premier exporter of the world’s finest gourmet coffees – Kenya AA FAQ PLUS being the flag-bearer.
7. Africoff Trading Ltd
Africoff Trading Co. Ltd is a leading coffee blending company in Kenya. Incorporated in Kenya in the year 1999 with the aim of sourcing and supplying all qualities of Kenya coffee, the organization has been offering unsurpassed expertise in coffee matters and policies to inspire love, confidence on Kenya coffee at competitive prices.
The company is fully Kenyan owned. The company boasts of having highly qualified coffee exports and staff with abundant experience in all aspects of Kenya Coffee
8. Diamond Coffee Company Ltd
The company’s founder, the late Pravin Shah, developed a passion for Kenyan Coffee from farming in 1965.
Today, more than 40 years later, his two sons continue to embrace traditional family values in the company. Over the decades, the focus on such values, with special emphasis on quality with exceptional service, has proved to nurture truly unique relationships with their clients and the farmers.