Kenya: The King and Perpetual MVP

Posted: March 25, 2013 - 1:19pm

Coffee is full of surprises, and every season a handful of coffees emerge as standout favorites amongst our lineup of all-star caliber offerings. During the last couple of months our selection of Colombian coffees from Huila and Nariño--sold under the Tres Santos banner--have been singled out by both our baristas and our roasters as the ‘stars’ of the moment. Over the last 17 years every origin we work with has had its time in the sun, embraced above all others as the most beloved coffee on the list.


Because coffee is a delicate plant and quality relies on so many agricultural variables, some crop years are slightly better than others and there are always a number of almost-magical lots where everything goes right and particular coffees reach unexpected peaks that leave us breathless when we taste them.

Amidst this ever-changing landscape of culinary delights, there is one unwavering certainty that seems to defy probability: Kenya shall be the King. When considering all of the coffees we sell each year—from nearly twenty different producing countries and hundreds of different farms—it stands to reason that most of them would contend each year for the title of “best in show”. Yet despite the great number of exceptional quality lots we encounter, there is one origin that claims the title year after year and simply refuses to be dethroned. It’s almost unfair. For well over a decade our Kenyan coffees have been the top-scoring lots on the cupping table by a significant margin. We taste our coffees every single day without fail, and our team of tasters, along with our extensive collective of Baristas, will often express individual preferences for certain coffees and settle in on their personal favorites. They don’t always agree, but when it comes to the Kenyan coffees all doubt and debate evaporates and the disembodied voice of MC Hammer echoes throughout the room: You Can’t Touch This.

Even the critical element of Seasonality goes out the window when Kenya is involved. Doesn’t matter if we are in January or June; Kenya is still going to outshine all others. Like the Kenyan marathon runners that dominate their sport, Kenyan coffees just don’t seem to get tired. The bouquet of tropical fruit flavors and floral aromatics never quit, and the enduring sweetness in these coffees somehow manages to carry on through the months as though time were at a standstill. Choosing favorites is something I’m not inclined to do, whether the subject is music, food, sport, literature or friends. When asked about coffee, however, I never hesitate. Kenyan coffees are my favorite, apologies and respect in advance to all others. I love and cherish the spectacular coffees from Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Bolivia, and many other origins. There is greatness to be found almost everywhere if you look hard enough and put the work in, and I happily fill my cup each day with gorgeous coffees from all over the world. Nevertheless, when push comes to shove there is always one left standing: The King.