What Does Kenyan Coffee Taste Like? (REVEALED!)

9 Min Read
What Does Kenyan Coffee Taste Like?

An excellent Kenya coffee is lively while remaining clean and crisp, without being subtle or delicate, and is often highly well-balanced. Lemony citrus notes, sometimes pepper, may be present, coupled with blackberry tones. A Kenya coffee’s aftertaste might well be relatively dry with both a lemony flavor or it may be winey.

Even casual coffee consumers are familiar with Kenyan coffee due to its widespread reputation for being of the highest quality.

However, if you’ve never experienced these beans before, you might want to know what Kenyan coffee tastes like before buying a bag.

Kenyan coffee offers a full-bodied texture with high citrus notes, chocolate, and cherry undertones.

The flavor profile is robust, yet it is also well-balanced. However, because Kenyan coffee is cultivated in various areas, the flavor of Kenyan beans will differ significantly.

What Does Kenyan Coffee Taste Like?

Kenyan coffee’s sharp citrus acidity and chocolate/berry undertones are well-known.

Also, it has a strong flavor that reaches your palate quickly, a light flowery aroma, and a winey finish that is a trademark of African coffees.

However, not every Kenyan coffee tastes similar because Kenya is a large country with so many different coffee-growing regions.

This article describes the several coffee-growing areas in Kenya, as well as the unique characteristics of the coffee produced in each:

Central Region of Kenya Coffee Has a Fruity, Chocolate Flavor with Notes of Citrus.

Look for single-origin beans cultivated in Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Mountains, or any of these four locations if you want coffee from the Central Region.

  • Kiranyaga
  • Nyeri
  • Kiambu
  • Muranga

The majority of Kenya’s coffee comes from the country’s Central Region. That’s why it’s typically Central Region coffee that comes up when discussing the flavor of Kenyan coffee. Coffee from each of the four counties has its unique flavor.

Kiranyaga and Nyeri produce beans with the characteristically brilliant citrus and delicious chocolate flavor of Kenyan coffee. Whereas Kiambu and Muranga coffee tend to be softer in taste.

Western Region Coffee Has Sharp Citrus Notes

For a taste of Western Region beans, consider looking for Bungoma, Kakamega, or Vihiga single-origin beans.

All three of these counties may be found on the slopes of Mount Elgon, not far from the Kenyan and Ugandan borders.

You should anticipate your cup of Kenyan coffee from this area to be full-bodied, acidic, and citrusy.

Eastern Region Coffee Tastes Fruity With Medium Acidity

Coffee beans should ideally come from the following counties: Machakos, Embu, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, or Meru.

Although the soils in this area are rich and volcanic, the climate is drier than in the west and the center of the country. This results in a less acidic but still fruity and smooth flavor characteristic for the beans.

Nyanza Region Coffee Tastes Sweet, Fruity, and Nutty Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, and Homa produce most of the region’s coffee.

If you wish to try some Nyanza Region coffee, you should seek out Kenyan coffees from these regions.

The continuous rainfall in this area makes for milder tasting beans that are smooth and creamy with touches of fruit and nuts.

Rift Valley Coffee Tastes Of Mild Citrus And Fruit Chocolate

The mountains on the western side of Kenya supply the Rift Valley with most of its coffee. It is recommended to begin your search for beans in the areas of Kericho, Nandi, Bomet, Transnzbia, and Kipkelion.

Coffee from these places has Kenyan coffee’s typical citrus and chocolatey undertones but with less marked acidity. Kenyan coffee is considered to be the world’s best coffee.

Kenya’s Altitude And Soil Increases Sweetness

The areas of Kenya used for coffee production are covered with volcanic ash. This soil is well-known for its exceptionally high fertility, making it an excellent choice for the cultivation of coffee plants.

The high altitudes at which Kenyan coffee is grown lead the plants to mature more slowly. As a result of this slower development, the coffee bean has more time to create more complex tastes.

In addition to this benefit, high altitudes and volcanic soils also promote healthy drainage in the soil, which is another reason they are valuable.

If the ground has enough drainage, the plant’s roots will be able to develop deeper while the nutrients in the soil will be preserved.

Because of this combination of nutrient-rich soil and slow development, Kenya’s coffee has a very high sugar content, which is the primary reason for its exceptional quality.

Kenya’s Wet Processing Method Increases Quality And Flavor

The vast majority of coffee beans grown in Kenya undergo wet processing shortly after being picked (a method for separating the coffee bean from the fruit pulp).

Damp processing has some apparent advantages that contribute to a boost in the flavor and quality of Kenyan coffee.

The coffee beans are first put into containers filled with water as the first step in the process. The ripe fruit will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Unripe fruit, which has a lesser density and a poorer flavor, will float to the top, where it can be effortlessly removed. 

Second, compared to dry processing, wet processing procedures are superior in maintaining the acidity and natural taste of the coffee.

Kenya’s Grade AA Coffee Contains More Flavorful Oils

A grading system that assigns points to beans based on their size, shape, color, and density was developed by the Kenyan Coffee Board.

The most giant beans are graded as the highest quality (AA), while the smaller beans are deemed to be of lower quality.

It is generally accepted that more giant beans have a greater quantity of aromatic oils, which contribute to an enhanced flavor and odor profile in the coffee.

Look for coffee labeled as Grade AA if you want to experience the full range of flavors and aromas that Kenyan coffee offers.

Kenyan Arabica Tastes Sweeter And More Complex Than Robusta

In Kenya, both Robusta and Arabica beans are cultivated, and each variety of bean has a unique flavor character.

Robusta beans are hardier and more straightforward to grow. However, they have a flat and bitter flavor. These beans are typically used as a filler in mixes.

Arabica beans, on the other hand, are delicate, having a sweeter and more nuanced flavor. These beans are higher in altitude and of superior grade.

Most Kenyan growers cultivate Arabica due to the country’s high altitude, lush soil, and reputation for luxury coffee.


Although a coffee’s profile (or how we experience how it tastes) is subjective, there are common qualities that help us tell them apart. How coffee beans are cultivated, harvested, and processed affects their taste.

These include body, mouthfeel (how heavy or light the coffee feels), bean size and shape, acidity, and flavor.

Over-roasted beans are, therefore, desirable. Over-roasting burns the beans, preventing us from tasting the geographical differences between Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee. 


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