History of Coffee in Kenya

Coffee was first planted in Kenya in 1893, with subsequent early plantings also in 1900 and 1904. The Kenyan coffee industry was only a few decades old when it established the Coffee Industry Ordinance of 1932 which led to the Coffee Board in 1933 and later the Kenya Coffee Auctions in 1934.

The Kenyan coffee industry was primarily run by British interests until the Mau Mau uprising in 1952 which began the process of returning most of the control of local coffee back to the people of Kenya. Coffee has been one of the pillars of the Kenyan economy since its independence from Britain in 1963.

In the past few years the Kenyan coffee industry has come under the increased control of the Kenyan government in an attempt to maximize profit (“protecting the small farmer”) by legislating how coffee is marketed, transported and sold. However, intervention has resulted in lost profit, the shutting down of mills, lowered bean production, lawsuits and questions as to why a thriving industry needed to be ‘transformed’ in the first place.

There are over 700,000 large and small-scale farmers in Kenya, benefitting approximately 5 million people, which is about 1/8 Kenya’s entire population.