The birthplace of coffee is very close to Kenya but getting it was not an easy task. Thousands of Kenyans who worked in coffee plantations more so in Arabia and Kenya were enslaved by Arabs. Arabs were the major controller of coffee in East Africa. Later after the arrival of British settlers, who assumed control over the East African Country there was more bloodshed.
The coffee history in Kenya is broad and complicated. It reflects country history as a British colony and the struggle for independence. Though it is very close to Ethiopia where coffee is believed to have originated, it was not introduced in the country until 1893. At this time missionaries tried to import Bourbon Coffee from Brazil.
It was cultivated in Kenya at Bura near Taita Hills in 1893. Thereafter, missionaries grew it near Kibwezi under irrigation around 1900, and in Kikuyu near Nairobi in 1904. By then there was no established statutory control. Therefore, processing, production, grading and marketing was not dealt on seriously like today. Individuals handled the marketing of coffee through institutions which had been established in the 1920s. After the Devonshire white paper of 1923 which was written by Victor Cavendish, the British colonial government allowed control over the planting of coffee outside European established lands more so in Meru and Kisii areas. After the coffee farmers requested the colonial government to enact the Coffee industry Ordinance in 1932, the Coffee Board was established with the help of Lord Delamere. It was re-enacted in 1934 and from then it has been amended severally.
Coffee Board was mandated to regulate, promote and license anyone who wanted to grow the crop which was becoming popular. To sell Kenyan coffee easily, Kenya Coffee Auctions was started in 1934. It ensured that selling and grading of Kenyan coffee were properly done. The first coffee auction took place in 1935.
Coffee Marketing Board becomes functional in 1947 a short time after it had been established under the Coffee Marketing Ordinance. Its main functions included:
Sale of coffee.
Control of Coffee warehouses.
By the end of 1930, the powers of farmers who grew coffee become so strong. Even though there were over 1 million Kikuyu tribe in central Kenya, settlers called the place their home. So that their interest could last for long, they banned them from growing the crop. Hut tax was introduced so that they could provide labour in their farms. They were forced to leave their homes and head to cities in order to survive.
This legal slavery continued in Central Kenya until when the British government took full control shortly after the first Lancaster house conference. This took place in 1960. Though there has been a lot of bloodshed and slavery, Kenyan coffee has continued to dominate and flourish to be among the finest cups in the world.
Most of the coffee is produced by small scale farmers that are full members of cooperatives that process their own coffee. Ruiru hybrid plant has been established lately. It is causing a lot of concern among Kenyan coffee lovers. This is because it lacks the taste that traditional coffee possesses. It is with no doubt that some of the world finest coffee comes from Kenya and it is for this reason why it has won praises at the cupping table