The 5 Best Kenyan Coffee Brands (Plus Buying Tips!)

Seeking out the best Kenyan coffee brands isn’t as difficult as it looks. While many roasters source their beans from a variety of places, Kenya is regularly in high demand.

Kenya is the 16th largest coffee producer today, straddling the line between popular and still somewhat niche compared to its Ethiopian neighbor: this country’s coffee industry is expected to hit a revenue of $100 million in just a few years.

Demand for delicious coffee drinks is surging not just globally but within the country’s borders. That’s no small feat considering tea has been the dominant drink for centuries!

Why is Kenyan coffee so good, anyway? We’re going to take a look at today’s best Kenyan coffee brands so you can taste them for yourself!

A Brief Overview of Kenyan Coffee

brief overview of kenyan coffee

The Kenyan coffee industry has worked hard to earn its positive reputation. With a land overflowing with rich soil, steady rainfall, and consistent sunlight, their coffee is given endless opportunities to show its best side.

While Kenya doesn’t produce as much coffee as industry heavyweights like Brazil and Colombia, this country has carved out a niche as a supplier of high-quality, complex beans. Their soil quality is attributed to its high level of acidity, right alongside important factors like altitude and the skill of hardworking farmers. The majority of coffee farms in the country are owned by small scale holders, many of them family-owned.

Kenyan coffee is notable for having exceptionally bold, sweet flavors such as plum, blackcurrant, and blueberry. That said, some coffees will boast almost wine-like profiles with sultry characteristics or a lean toward dark, bitter chocolate. Expect to find most Kenyan coffee bags roasted with a light or medium profile.

Why is Kenyan Coffee so Good?

kenyan coffee so good

Kenyan coffee quality is carefully maintained through a mixture of traditional coffee cultivation and complex grading systems. These grading systems are designed to ensure a consistent flavor every time a customer purchases a bag, which is easier said than done!

Just a few of the grades you’ll come across in Kenyan coffee brands include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Kenya Peaberry (or Kenya PB)
  • Kenya C
  • Kenya T
  • Kenya TT
  • Kenya AA

Why Does Kenyan Coffee Taste Like Tomatoes?

While not present in every bag, some Kenyan coffee may have a subtle tomato aroma or flavor profile. This quality comes from the higher acidity and the tendency toward brambly, fruity notes.

What are Kenyan Brewing Methods?

African coffee brewing methods are an art form in of themselves. The traditional Kenyan brewing method is known as kahawa chungu, a term that means ‘bitter coffee’ in Swahili.

Kenyan coffee is often brewed using kettles over charcoal-heated stoves. Spices such as ginger or cinnamon are sometimes added to the mix.

The Best Kenyan Coffee Brands

We’ve picked quite a selection for you to enjoy on your Kenyan coffee journey. Take a look at the roasters below to find your next favorite brew!

  1. Zabuni Specialty Coffee
  2. Equator Coffee
  3. Volcanica Coffee Roasters
  4. Cooper’s Cask Coffee
  5. Peet’s Coffee

coffee-beans

1. Zabuni Specialty Coffee

Stepping into the world of Kenyan coffee means becoming acquainted with the ongoing efforts of Zabuni Specialty Coffee. This roaster doubles as a green coffee trader, specializing in African coffee to bring sustainability and transparency to the coffee industry.

Zabuni Specialty Coffee holds the distinction of buying and distributing the largest selection of specialty Kenyan coffee, promising a much larger share of the profits than what is usually seen in the industry. This commitment to change means you’re not just enjoying some of the best coffee seen the world over: you’re literally paying it forward.

If you have a home roaster, you can also purchase their green coffee and roast it from the comfort of your kitchen.

Our Choice Pick:

It’s hard to pick just one bag with Zabuni Specialty Coffee…so we chose two!

Sunrise Cold Brew

sunrise cold brew
Image: Shop Zabuni Coffee

With hot weather still dominating many parts of the world, there’s nothing quite like a refreshing cold brew to get you through the day.

This coffee has a medley of gentle and fruity flavors ranging from vanilla to blueberry, ideal for an ice-cold splash of milk. You can also buy their Toddy Cold Brew System with your order if you’re in need of an upgrade on your brewing supplies!

Tembo Dark Roast Kenyan

tembo dark roast kenyan
Image: Shop Zabuni Coffee

Do you crave dark coffee for your espresso machine or Moka pot? Tembo Dark Roast Kenyan has many classic flavors with a zesty Kenyan twist.

The washed processing method used for this bag results in deep, rich cocoa flavors mingled with a citrusy finish. This bag would taste incredible in a simple Americano or cup of black drip.

We Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Want to support more equitable, sustainable roasters
  • Want a wide variety of specialty Kenyan coffee
  • Also want to purchase coffee supplies, cold brew, or coffee accessories

We Don’t Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Need decaf, kosher, or low acid coffee options

2. Equator Coffee

Established in 1995, Equator Coffee has fine-tuned the art of commercialization and quality. With a robust coffee portfolio pulling from all corners of the globe, Equator Coffee is your one-stop shop to learn all about origins.

When it comes to Kenyan coffee, Equator Coffee has a slew of blends for you to get started with. This roaster shows extra attention to detail in their coffee profiles, providing you with a list of altitude levels and an extensive overview of the coffee lot.

You’ll still get essential details like roast levels and brewing suggestions to round out your experience.

Our Choice Picks:

Not sure which coffee to try first in this massive portfolio? We have a few choices picks for you to get started with.

Endless Summer Blend

endless summer blend
Image: Equator Coffees

Their seasonal Endless Summer Blend is a stunning mixture of Kenyan and Ethiopia, its close neighbor. This bag uses the washed method and a very light roast level to protect its delicate peach and nougat flavors.

This coffee would make for an almost tea-like experience black, but no doubt will pair well with a sprinkle of sugar and milk.

TK Espresso

tk espresso
Image: Equator Coffees

If you’re thinking of a darker roast, their TK Espresso will give you something to sing about next time you whip out your Moka pot. Not only is it a stunning showcase of what makes blends so fun to experience, but each purchase also comes with a charitable donation to the Keller Restaurant Relief Fund.

This bag is sourced from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Colombia, balancing everything with a medium roast level and two coffee processing methods. The result is an espresso that’s classic chocolate and caramel with a cherry aftertaste.

We Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Want a wide variety of roast levels and origins to try
  • Also want convenient options like instant coffee

We Don’t Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Want single-origin Kenyan coffee

3. Volcanica Coffee Roasters

Want to try more single-origin bags? Volcanica has you covered. You might have glimpsed this roaster in passing (including on our site!) for its well-deserved popularity in the West.

This coffee roaster has a medley of certifications to its name, ranging from shade-grown to fair trade. This commitment to sourcing their coffee as sustainably as possible is becoming a key factor in consumer buying habits, which is nothing to say of the coffee itself.

Volcanica Coffee Roasters has single origin coffee and a smattering of blends, right alongside more specific options such as low acid coffee, kosher certification, and decaf options.

Not content to end there, this roaster also offers student discounts and charity support for select bags.

Our Choice Pick:

Volcanica Coffee Roasters has no shortage of incredible bags to choose from. Below is one of our personal favorites!

Kenya Natural Process Coffee

kenya natural process coffee
Image: Volcanica Coffee

This impressive coffee bag has quite the reputation preceding it. Not only does it come from one of the country’s oldest coffee farms, but it’s also grown at exceptionally high altitudes.

As such, this bag’s flavor notes are exceptionally vibrant and complex. Expect a wine-like character of subtle spices, tart berries, and dark chocolate.

We highly recommend drinking this coffee straight or adding a small splash of milk to keep its flavors dominant.

We Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Need low acid, kosher, or decaf coffee options
  • Enjoy blends as well as single origin

We Don’t Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Don’t want to support brands that sell coffee pods

4. Cooper’s Cask Coffee

If you want to step off the beaten path when it comes to more unconventional coffee processing methods, Cooper’s Cask Coffee has you covered.

This small batch roaster has made a name for itself not just for its commitment to single-origin coffee, but barrel aging.

More specifically, Cooper’s Cask Coffee will sometimes age their coffee in wine, whiskey, bourbon, or rum-laced wooden barrels.

If you’d rather try your coffee without these additions, don’t worry. This roaster also provides great single-origin options at varying roast levels, bag sizes, and grind types.

Our Choice Pick:

Whether you want to try the beans as close to the source as possible or with an alcoholic spin, Cooper’s Cask Coffee is a solid place to start your Kenyan coffee journey.

Kenya AA Medium Dark Roast

kenya aa medium dark roast
Image: Coopers Coffeeco

This bag is upfront about adhering to the country’s meticulous grading system, letting you know off the bat you’re in for a treat. Although many Kenyan coffee bags are roasted light or medium, this bag skews quite dark.

This bag uses Bourbon coffee beans, a notoriously finicky variety that creates truly stellar results. Expect a blend of dark, rummy fruit notes with a honeyed, wheat-like aroma. Try this bag across a variety of brewing methods to push its complexity to its limits.

We Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Are curious to try less conventional methods of roasting coffee
  • Want convenient options like subscription models or loyalty programs

We Don’t Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Don’t want to support roasters who sell coffee pods
  • Want a wider variety of Kenyan coffee options
  • Want more affordable coffee options

5. Peet’s Coffee

When in doubt? Go for the classics. Peet’s Coffee is a household staple for casual coffee drinkers and passionate fans alike, due in no small part to their convenience.

Not only can Peet’s Coffee be found just about anywhere you go, but they also offer an incredible variety of origins, coffee types, and convenience options.

Their subscription model and rewards system makes it easy to get a lot of bang for your buck, especially if you drink coffee daily. If you’re also interested in tea, they have quite a few lovely options to choose from.

Our Choice Pick:

While Peet’s Coffee doesn’t have as many Kenyan coffee choices as the other selections on our list, it’s a very good one.

Kenya Auction Lot

kenya auction lot
Image: Peets

This bag comes from a high pedigree, hailing from the stellar Kenyan Auction to ensure its quality (now known as the Nairobi Coffee Exchange). Here coffee of all shapes and sizes is carefully sorted, judged, and sold to the highest bidder.

This coffee is roasted on the darker side, boasting both a full body and a higher level of acidity. The washed coffee process leaves this coffee tasting quite bright, offering flavor notes of brown sugar sweetness with classic Kenyan blackcurrant.

We Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Want conveniences such as loyalty programs, subscriptions, or coffee variety
  • Want a wide selection of decaf options
  • Also enjoy drinking tea

We Don’t Recommend This Roaster For Drinkers Who:

  • Want more single-origin Kenyan coffee options
  • Don’t want to support roasters who sell coffee pods

Why Try Kenyan Coffee Brands?

It’s a shorter list to say why you shouldn’t try Kenyan coffee. This origin continues to make waves around the world for its unforgettable coffee and how well it protects traditional farming methods.

Kenya is today’s 16th largest coffee producer, both exporting specialty coffee around the world and circulating its own fascinating coffee brewing culture.

According to industry trends, Kenyan coffee demand will continue to skyrocket both domestically and internationally. Coffee from this region is known for being winey, fruit-forward, and sometimes even tasting tomatoes.

Want to learn more about coffee origins? Check out our pieces on Brazilian coffee and Colombian coffee here!

Further Reading