Kenyans Swap their Morning Tea for Java

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A booming domestic market could nurture a new generation of farmers in a flagging industry, said Matthew Harrison, an Amsterdam-based buyer at specialty coffee sourcing company Trabocca. Kenya’s coffee production peaked at 129,000 tonnes three decades ago but has dropped to around 40,000 tonnes due to poor management, global price swings and climate change. Now the East African country accounts for just 1% of the global crop, but its high-quality arabica beans are sought after by roasters for blending with other varieties.

Demand at home for the beans is rising, as newly minted members of the urban middle class and even those in the countryside develop a taste for specialty coffee. Kenyans consume just 5% of total output, compared with neighbouring Ethiopia, where domestic consumption accounts for nearly half of production, thanks to a strong coffee drinking culture.

But the local consumption in Kenya has tripled to 1,500 metric tonnes per year in the past decade, figures from the global business data portal, Statista, showed. He produces more than 50 tonnes of coffee a year, and the proportion of the coffee he sells locally has doubled to 60% from 30% seven years ago. The rest goes to the United States, Britain and Belgium.

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