REGION: Nyeri, Kiambu
GROWING ALTITUDE: 1400-1800 msal
VARIETAL: Bourbon, Kent, SL28, SL34
HARVEST PERIOD: October – February
TASTE NOTES: Blackcurrant, Butterscotch, Lime
Q Grade Score: 84.75
Across the Central Highland Range, encompassing the Aberdaire range, Nanyuki, Nyahururu, Nyeri, and Mount Kenya, the bronzed tips of SL34 and bright yellow green of SL28 undulate across the farms and estates. Forming nearly 90% of the coffee grown, the SL varietals are commonly found alongside historical varietals such as Bourbon and Kent. Newer varietals Ruiru 11, and Batian, a varietal that shares its name with the peak of the mountain slopes on which it is grown are gradually encroaching though.
The higher altitude provides a cooler growing climate, and the rich soil is perfect for production of tea and coffee, as well as dairy and corn. The ranges themselves form part of the Great Rift Valley, near 6000km long trench that runs from the Lebanon to Mozambique. Rainfall is reliable, falling in two seasons creating the occurrence of two cropping seasons.
Acacias is a selection of the best coffees from across what used to be called the Central Province. The province disappeared in 2013 when the country changed to a system of counties instead, though the Central Province is still often referred to as it had a strong reputation for quality coffee growing.
Handpicked when ripe, the cherry is delivered to the wet mill the same day to ensure no uncontrolled fermentation occurs, where it is sorted again and then pulped. River water is used for processing and recirculated before disposal, with the coffee being sent out to soak in tanks in what is known as the ‘Kenyan’ style – an additional 8-16 hours of soaking under clean water which helps to bring clarity to the cup and prolongs the qualities of acidity before drying under the sun.
Once dried, cuppers select the specific bean size and cup attributes before bagging, or blending to ensure consistency, then passing through for the removal of parchment and bagging ready for export.
The SL varietals are ubiquitous in Kenya. Coming from what was then known as Scott Laboratories in the 1930s, SL28 stems from a selection of a single tree from a population that was known as Tanganyika Drought Resistant, that was related to the Bourbon lineage of plants. SL34 was made in a similar way but from a French Mission lineage on the partnered Loresho Estate in Kabete. French Mission has always been assumed to be of Bourbon lineage, though recent genetic tests have shown it to be of Typica lineage