Top 7 Best Kenyan Coffee Beans - Reviewed

Kenya is home to over 20 volcanoes.

And it’s the rich volcanic soil, plus the favorable altitude and climate that give Kenyan coffee its unique taste.

Kenya shares a border with coffee giant Ethiopia and produces intense, aromatic coffee. It’s prized throughout the world, especially the “AA” grade beans, as we’ll see.

Let’s explore the best Kenyan coffee brands!

The 7 Best Kenyan Coffee Beans Review - Our Pick

Although Kenya used to be tea-centered, the younger generations are moving toward a coffee future. Of course, it’s no surprise when you taste just how good the coffee is.

Our list includes only the best authentic Kenyan coffee. Grown and processed in Kenya, fresh-roasted, and sent to your door for a reasonable price.

Volcanica Kenya AA

Volcanica Kenya AA

  • Region: Kenya (Nyeri Hill Estate)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean, Ground (16 oz, 3 lb, 5 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: berries, floral, fruity
  • Certifications: Rainforest Alliance Certified, Kosher Certified

Volcanica sources coffee from countries where dormant volcanos and rich soils are present. The coffee they responsibly source from Kenya is of the AA grade, which means not only are they the biggest beans, they’re also the best overall quality (no cracks, fissures, etc.)

This coffee has a notoriously strong flavor, with intense fruity and floral notes with some woody undertones. At $1.50/ounce, it’s fairly pricy. However, with the limited amount of Kenyan AA beans produced in a season, you’re getting an exotic, flavorful coffee.

Coffee connoisseurs say Kenyan coffee is the best in the world, and since Volcanica’s Kenya AA is #1 on our list, that makes it one of the best coffees in the world. Try it for yourself!

Cooper's Cask Kenyan Coffee Beans

Cooper's Cask Kenyan Coffee Beans

  • Region: Kenya
  • Type of roast: Medium Dark
  • Form: Whole bean, Ground (12 oz, 2 lb, 5 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate, fruity
  • Certifications: Unknown

Cooper’s Cask has a large variety of coffees available from Africa and South America. Their Kenyan AA Medium Dark roast is less fruity than the lighter roasts and has the darker notes that people love — chocolate sweetness with almost smoky tones.

This Kenya AA coffee is single-origin 100% Arabica. Because of the high quality of the beans and a micro-batch roasting strategy, Cooper’s Cask can achieve a high standard of coffee.

You can brew any way you want, If you prefer pre-ground, Cooper’s Cask offers this coffee in both whole bean and ground forms.

Henry's House of Coffee: Kenya Beans

Henry's House of Coffee: Kenya Beans

  • Region: Kenya
  • Type of roast: Light
  • Form: Whole bean 12 oz bag
  • Flavor notes: sweet, fruity, floral
  • Certifications: Unknown

Henry’s House is our #3 pick because it’s a light roast with big, popping flavors. So, if you’re into the bright, acidic tang of light roasts, you’ll love this Kenyan coffee. And if you’ve been drinking darker roasts your whole life, give this a try — you’ll experience coffee like never before.

Of course, there’s a caveat — it’s pricier than Volcanica and Cooper’s Cask at $1.67/ounce. But factoring in the exclusivity (the closest thing to this is Ethiopian coffee), it may be worth (at least) trying. Frankly speaking, if you end up liking Kenyan, you can always switch to a more affordable brand.

We recommend Henry’s House Kenyan coffee to people who want a fruity roast with a strong personality — punchy, bright, and balanced.

Java House Kenya Coffee-Beans

Java House Kenya Coffee-Beans

  • Region: Kenya
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean 13 oz bag
  • Flavor notes: sweet, fruity
  • Certifications: Unknown

Java House’s Kenyan AA coffee beans are grown high up in the Kenyan Highlands. Before being processed, each bean is carefully chosen, and growers pick only the ripest beans. After going through a washing/drying process, the beans are roasted in small batches to ensure they arrive fresh to your door.

Java House sells only authentic Kenyan-grown coffee and has a Mark of Origin from Kenya. You can check for authenticity on the Kenyan government’s website.

The beans are medium-roasted, and after grinding and brewing them, you’ll experience a fruity, floral explosion of smells and flavors. Reviewers say this coffee is intensely sweet, with a pleasant mouthfeel. The only downside is that it’s the priciest coffee on our list at $1.89/ounce.

We recommend this coffee to people who like to change their coffee brewing method and want to experience the best coffee from Kenya.

Gevalia Special Reserve Kenya Ground Coffee

Gevalia Special Reserve Kenya Ground Coffee

  • Region: Kenya
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Ground 10 oz bag
  • Flavor notes: sweet, fruity, floral
  • Certifications: Unknown

Gevalia is a company from Sweden (of all places, right?), and its Kenyan coffee is only sold in pre-ground form in 10 oz bags. Note: It’s a fine grind, so it won't work for French Press or Cold Brew.

Gevalia’s Special Reserve Kenya is grown on cooperative farms on the tallest mountain in Kenya — Mount Kenya. The altitude and climate make it the perfect place to grow amazing coffee.

Local farmers pick the ripest (red) coffee berries and sun-dry them to seal in the flavor. Once they’re roasted, they’re ground up and vacuum-sealed.

We recommend this coffee for people on a tighter budget that don’t have a coffee grinder. Gevalia is pre-ground and cheaper than whole-bean alternatives.

Coffee Bean Direct Kenya AA

Coffee Bean Direct Kenya AA

  • Region: Kenya
  • Type of roast: Light
  • Form: Whole bean, Ground (1 lb, 2.5 lb, 5 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: fruity, floral, citrus
  • Certifications: Kosher Certified

Coffee Bean Direct has an incredible selection of coffees from around the world. Their handpicked Kenya AA coffee is a special treat for coffee snobs and casual drinkers.

It has a wine-like, fruity flavor thanks to the light roast. While brewing in a pour-over would be the ideal way to bring out the subtle and delicate flavors, there’s no rule against brewing with a French Press or any other method. As long as you’re enjoying the cup — that’s all that matters.

We’d recommend buying a 1 lb bag, trying it out, and buying a bigger bag if you like the coffee (the bigger the bag, the bigger the savings).

Fresh Roasted Kenya AA

Fresh Roasted Kenya AA

  • Region: Kenya (Bungoma County)
  • Type of roast: Medium Dark
  • Form: Whole bean (12 oz, 2 lb, 5 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: fruity, floral, sweet
  • Certifications: Kosher Certified

Now, this may be the cheapest Kenya AA on the market, period. If you buy a 2 lb bag, it’s only $0.81/ounce. It has all the complexity you’d expect in a Kenyan AA coffee — floral blossoms with fruity undertones, a nice balance of flavor, and depth thanks to the medium-dark roast.

After being picked, the coffee beans are wet-processed and sun-dried. They’re then shipped to the USA, where they’re roasted and packaged to order.

We recommend these beans as a budget option — Kenya AA for less than $1 per ounce is hard to beat.

Kenyan Coffee History

As we mentioned in the intro, Kenya shares a border with Ethiopia. By word-of-mouth historical accounts, Ethiopia is the place where man first drank coffee.

Now, it might seem logical that coffee would arrive in neighboring countries like Kenya before spreading halfway across the world. Still, fate would have it that Kenya was first introduced to coffee in the late 19th century.

As time went on, coffee production increased, but one thing stayed the same — Kenyans stuck to small, cooperative farms. And, to this day, the majority of the Kenyan coffee you’re drinking is picked and processed by small, local farmers.

What is Kenya AA coffee?

It may surprise you that there’s no single accepted rating system for coffee. For example, Africa and India have a letter system. But regardless of the letter/number/word designation used, there’s one thing in common — screen size grading.

But beyond the size, there are also other considerations, like defects and cracks in the beans.

Grade of Kenyan coffee beans:

  • PB - Peaberries
  • AA - Screen size 17/18
  • AB - Screen size 15/16
  • C - Screen size 14/15
  • E – Elephant - Beans with a distinct separation (in the form of ears). Also, large peaberries
  • TT - Light beans separated from AA and AB by air current
  • T - Smaller than TT, many fragments. Light beans separated from C by air current
  • UG - Ungraded

Kenyan AA coffee beans are of the highest quality. Some sources say Grade E (Elephant) is the biggest and best. However, after looking into the International Coffee Organization’s classification, Kenyan AA wins out after all.

Coffee growing regions and conditions in Kenya

The best coffee grows in the Central region, specifically, the regions surrounding the fertile slopes of Mt. Kenya. Known as Kenya’s “Black Gold region” and the “Brazil” of Kenya, this region produces the majority of beans.

Coffee is also grown in other regions in small quantities. These regions include Western, Eastern, and Rift Valley Regions.

Nyeri Region

Nyeri is a town located in the Central region. It sits at 5750 feet (1750 meters) and is covered in lush forests. Most of the land is used to grow crops like tea and coffee. It’s considered by some to grow the best Kenyan coffee AA beans.

Nyeri Ichamara

Ichamara is a small settlement in the Central region of Kenya. It’s commonly misused as a synonym for Kenya AA. The settlement indeed grows exceptional beans with full-bodied and full-flavored characteristics. However, they’re not all AA quality.

Kenyan Coffee Characteristics & Taste Profile

Kenyan beans are commonly noted to be bright, acidic, wine-like in flavor, berry, fruity, and floral. With darker roasts, a distinct sweetness appears, with chocolate and molasses flavor notes.

Depending on the roast, acidity ranges from high acidity (light roasts) to medium acidity (medium roasts)

Kenyan Coffee Facts

Here are seven interesting facts about Kenyan coffee:

  1. Kenyan coffee is one of the best in the world. Yes, that’s a fact :)
  2. Most Kenyan coffee is exported.
  3. Coffee was introduced to Kenya in the late 19th century by missionaries.
  4. The traditional way of brewing coffee, Kahawa Chungu, translates as “bitter coffee”.
  5. Traditionally, coffee is served with dates or sweets.
  6. Kenya’s Central Region grows the majority of Kenya’s coffee.
  7. Kenya’s highest peak (which happens to be a volcano) is the epicenter of Kenyan coffee.

Production of Kenyan Coffee

Kenya is the 16th largest producer of coffee in the world, exporting nearly 50,000 metric tons of coffee in 2019. Most coffee is grown on small farms. Growing conditions are ideal — plenty of rain and sun. Coupled with fertile soil at the right altitude and that’s the perfect recipe for perfect coffee beans.

It’s unclear how climate change and economic instability will affect Kenyan coffee production in the future. Judging on the data we’ve seen from other countries, it’s bound to affect the region at some point in time.

There are five Kenyan coffee types grown throughout the country. All are 100% Arabica, and we could find no information on Robusta production.

Conclusion

Kenyan coffee is unique.

It’s produced in small quantities on small farms. By some accounts, it’s just as good as Ethiopian coffee. From what we’ve read and researched — this is true.

Kenyan coffee is grown in similar conditions, and the result is bright acidity and fruity/floral flavor notes.

There are plenty of Kenyan coffee brands out there. Our mission was to find the top-7 best, and that’s what we did. Every coffee on our list is highly rated, touted, and revered.

When are you going to try Kenyan coffee?

Renat Mamatazin

Renat Mamatkazin

2021/04/28

Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).

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