Kenya Coffee AA Kathakwa

kenyan coffee beans to buy online
kenyan coffee beans to buy online
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Kenya Coffee AA Kathakwa


Kenyan Coffee AA Kathakwa Beans / Ground

2018 arrival

Kenyan coffee ranks among the highest quality coffee in the world. According to the Specialty Coffee Association, Kenyan coffee, especially AA coffee, has very distinct flavours with taste profiles enriched with powerful freshness. Our AA is from the Embu region, and is produced by the Kathakwa factory which is associated with the Kibugu Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS). Embu’s cup profile is complex, with generally the darker forest fruit, more browned sugars, and overall a bit more balance. An extremely versatile and quality specialty coffee

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One of Kenya’s highest scoring coffees

Taste notes include cacao, fruity chocolate, plum, syrupy, sweet and strong acidity

Bespoke, artisan, hand-roasted to order



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Established in 1964 the Kathakwa factory is situated in the Central part of Kenya, Embu County, well known for producing high quality coffees. It is affiliated with the Kibugu Farmer Cooperative Society (FCS), and the factory serves two nearby villages of Kibugu and Nguviu. Other crops grown in the area include passion fruit, maize, beans and tea. Factory manager John Njue Kamwengu is assisted by a few permanent staff with additional help added as the harvest comes in. Their daily responsibilities include weighing cherry, selection and grading of coffee, handling cash and addressing the farmer’s needs. The area experiences two seasons of rainfall, the long rains from March to May and the short rains from October to December. On average Kathakwa factory will receive 1500mm of rain per year. Typically the climate ranges from 12 to 25 degrees celsius year round. Production cycle follows the standard timeframe with main crop harvested October through December/January and fly crop harvested April through June. After picking, ripe cherry is brought to the factory by smallholder farmers, before it undergoes processing to remove the skin and pulp –known as the wet processing method. The nearest water source is the Kiiriver. The factory is currently using a three disc pulper to remove the skin and fruit from the inner parchment layer that is protecting the green coffee bean. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight to break down the sugars, and using flowing water in channels to clean and density sort the coffee, the clean parchment end up in a soaking tank, where the coffee is submerged in water for an additional 12-24 hours. Finally, the coffee is brought out on the raised drying tables where it undergoes several rounds of hand sorting. Time on the drying tables depends on climate, ambient temperature and total production volume undergoing processing. Drying can take from 7 to 15 days in total. Wastewater is managed through the use of soaking pits. The water used for processing the cherry will spend time in the pits to insure that the nutrient rich water created during depulping will not be returned to the nearby water source without proper treatment. This additional step will cut down the risk of contamination, after adequate time for reabsorption the water will be recirculated. Currently, Kathakwa is using eight pits for this process.

Kenyan Coffee Export

Kenyan coffee is controlled by the Nairobi Coffee Exchange. The Nairobi Coffee Exchange is mandated to manage the coffee central auction in the country. In order to achieve its mandate as the manager of the trading floor as efficiently and to the benefit of the coffee industry, the Management Committee initiated this first ever strategic plan. In this strategy paper, the Exchange desires to articulate the government’s vision in the agricultural sector and in particular, the coffee sub-sector as envisaged in the vision 2030.

The Management Committee, being the first managers of the Exchange after KCPTA, found it necessary to refocus its role in the industry and ensure that it eliminates the malpractices and loopholes that have affected the trading floor in the past few years. This was only possible through a strategic approach that led to the development of this 3-year (2014 – 2017) NCE Strategic Plan – so designed to conform to the three (3) term of the Management Committee. The development process of the plan involved different players in the industry: the Coffee Directorate who gave unparalleled support and legal guidance in the wake of the new dispensation of AFFA Act, which took effect during the development of this strategy.

Needless to say, this is also coming up when Kenya as a country is embracing a new constitution enacted in 2010 which, among other things, devolved agriculture to the county government. It is envisaged that, the full implementation of this plan will enhance, improve and bring new approaches to the all-time-tested auction system of marketing coffee to carter for these changes. It will also and eventually demystify the perception that there are manipulative practices and cartels on the trading floor by availing relevant information to all the stakeholders.

The commitment of the Exchange is that it will be able to meet the needs of all the coffee stakeholder by embracing the best practices, improve the institutional capacity of the Exchange, engage in strategic partners for the benefit of the trade and embrace technology through the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

The Nairobi Coffee Exchange (NCE) is the central coffee auction which is the trading floor of Kenya coffee.The Coffee Board of Kenya (currently the Coffee Directorate under AFFA) as a statutory body was established in 1934 after the enactment of the coffee industry ordinance of 1933.  Since the enactment the Board was charged with the responsibility of carrying out regulation and marketing of coffee.  The auctions as a mode of selling Kenyan coffee was established in 1934 and created in 1935 to enhance quality assessment through grading.  

This role has changed over time through various amendments to the law to liberalize the coffee industry.   In 2001, the Coffee Act Cap 333 was repealed and the Coffee Act No. 9 of 2001 enacted, establishing the Board as a statutory body under the Ministry of Agriculture, solely to regulate the coffee industry. 

Before liberalization of the coffee industry the CBK (Coffee Board of Kenya) served both as a regulator and the sole marketing agent for all coffee in Kenya. At that particular time, the NCE (Nairobi Coffee Exchange), the institution established under the Coffee Rules to market coffee was run by Kenya Coffee Auctions Limited (KCA).

Upon liberalization of the industry and subsequent amendment of the Coffee Act in 2001, CBK’s core mandate changed from marketing and regulation to regulation only. The transition was not smooth since CBK and the manager/auctioneer left at the same time hence leaving the NCE without a manager. The Coffee (General) Rules were subsequently amended in the year 2002 to give an association the mandate to manage NCE. In 2006, section 62 of the rules was further amended to specify Kenya Coffee Producers and Traders Association (KCPTA) as the manager. 

KCPTA was an association with its own constitution governing it under different legislation and there are no provisions under the Coffee Act and/or the Rules regulating it. Therefore, due to the inadequacy of the law, CBK was unable to undertake its mandate as the regulator of the NCE, which is one of the most important institutions in the coffee industry since this is where the trading of all the coffee in the industry (save for direct sales) is done. 

Coffee (General) Rules 2002 were therefore revised in 2012, removing article 62, which had introduced KCPTA and introduced the NCE. 

The Exchange is managed by a Management Committee of 9 (nine) members comprised of 5 Producers, 2 Traders, 1 Representative of Commercial Millers & Marketing Agents and 1 from the Directorate.Ownership of the Nairobi Coffee Exchange is vested in the Regulator (i.e. the Directorate) in trust for the coffee industry with an overall oversight over its operations.The operations of the NCE are financed by the participants: trade and producers through their respective marketing agents, an auction levy as determined by the Exchange Committee from time to time is charged.


Almost all Kenyan coffee is processed by a wet method in order to ensure the best quality.  Growers pick only the red-ripe cherry.  At the factory, the cherries are sorted before processing and unripe, overripe or diseased cherries removed.  The cherries are then pulped to remove the outer skin.

The slimy sugary coating (mucilage) – which remain on the beans is removed through fermentation process.  Fermentation of parchment should be completed within 36 hours.

The parchment is now ready for sun drying on drying tables where it is regularly turned to obtain the bluish colour for which Kenya coffee is famous.

Drying the coffee is the lat process on the farm.  When it is fully dried the coffee is bagged and ready to be sent to the mills.

Kenyan Coffee Grading

At the mills the parchment skin surrounding each bean is removed followed by mechanical grading of the coffee into seven (7) separate grades according to size, weight and shape of the bean.  Currently there are 7 licensed commercial coffee mills and several private mills.

PB - Peaberry: round shape, only 1 coffee bean produced from the coffee cherry

AA - Large beans (&.20 mm screen)

B - This grade is a combination of A and B (6.80 mm screen)

C - Smaller bean than B

E - Elephants.  The largest beans.

TT - Any light coffee blown away from all grades including ears mostly from elephants.

T - The smallest and thinnest beans mostly broken and faulty.

Mbuni is coffee that has not gone through the wet process (unwashed).  It comprises about 10% of the total crop and graded either as heavy mbuni (MH) or light mbuni (ML).  This grade generally fetches lower prices and has a sour tasting liquor.

These grades are then classified based on a numerical reference system on a scale of 1 to 10.  The quality of the raw, roast and the liquor are analysed and described based on this scale where one (1) is the finest and best and ten (10) is the least favoured.  The cup may be described as Fine Fair to Good.  Fair Average Quality (standard 4), Fair, Poor to Fair to Common Plain Liquors.


Coffee quality and safety has been an issue of great concern to coffee producers and consumers all the world over.

The Board as the regulatory authority puts coffee quality at the centre of its mandate.  Every coffee miller and marketing Agent is by law required to forward a coffee sample for every lot handled for quality analysis and arbitration in case of dispute.  Growers also come to the Board for quality analysis of their coffee samples before making their marketing decisions.