Kenya Coffee History
In Kenya coffee production dates back several hundred years. Coffee was originally discovered in Ethiopia, Kenya's neighbor to the north. Unfortunately, just as in other coffee growing regions of the world, the coffee trade in Kenya triggered heated and bloody battles over the prime growing lands. The Arabs, who monopolized the coffee trade for several hundred years, killed and enslaved many thousand Kenyans and put them to work in coffee production both in Kenya coffee fields and on Arabian coffee plantations.
Around 1900 British settlers came to the region to grow Kenyan coffee. As more and more white settlers entered the region conflicts between the natives and the whites arose and led to more bloodshed. The British, being more skilled in the ways of politics and business quickly assumed control of the country.
This only escalated the violence and several native groups organized and revolted violently. The region remained a violent place until around 1960. Then the British relinquished control and granted the Kenyans independence.
All Kenyan coffee is of the Arabica variety, grown on rich volcanic soils in the highlands of Kenya. Approximately 250,000 Kenyans are involved in coffee production. Most coffee is produced by small holders with small plots of land. They are members of cooperative societies which process their own coffee.
There are two flowerings in each season. The blossom normally appears shortly after the beginning of the long rains in March and April. In most districts, the main crop ripens from October until the end of the year. The second and smaller flowering comes with the short rains in October or November. These are picked in the early part of the season, often starting the following June.
During the harvest, only red ripe cherries are picked, and always by hand. This entails frequent picking rounds with each tree picked every ten days or so. After milling, the coffee beans are graded mechanically into various grades which differ in size, weight and shape. The smoothness of its acidity and the subtle notes of its fruitiness make for an exceptional cup of coffee.
Today Kenyan coffee is a major export crop and provides jobs and security in an impoverished nation. As in many other regions of the world coffee has played a key role in development of under-developed countries. And unfortunately, money has driven some ruthless people and governments to place profit ahead of human rights. But as the world becomes more aware of injustices taking place the people of the world unite in support of democracy.
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