Many of us are accustomed to Kenya coffees being organized and sold in very small volumes that correspond to one specific estate or washing station (known as “factory” in Kenya) and one specific physical prep. While single-factory lots certainly dominate the highest quality tier, coffee exports as a whole in Kenya reflect the distribution of most producing countries elsewhere: as a wide triangle, with microlots at the top and bulk volumes of various transparency and quality standards comprising the larger, more efficient shipments. Kenya, working the way it does, means the microlot segment is proportionally large compared to other origins. But it rests upon, and interacts with, a bulk market nonetheless.
Each year Royal Coffee invests in select bulk lots with specific terroirs and physical preparations, in addition to the microlot work. These coffees provide targeted profiles and roasting consistency over larger volumes and longer periods. There are myriad ways to build coffees like these, and considering the assertive attributes of Kenya’s coffee as a whole, each one is naturally a little different.
This year’s Kenya AA FAQ from Machakos, is a combination of processed coffee from select producing groups across Kenya’s lesser-known Machakos county, whose deliveries are cupped and combined by profile and overall cup quality, and finally milled to a specific screen size distribution for export. Coffee from Machakos is typically less acidic and a more savory complexity than coffee from Kenya’s central counties and this one is no exception: it’s sweet and creamy with cantaloupe, brown butter, sweet sage, blood orange, and cranberry flavors. Bulk lots such as this one are created through collaboration between Royal and the exporter, first on the cupping table with representative samples and then duplicated by blending stock lots of pre-milled coffees to match. After the full lot is built, the coffee is re-sorted by color and density and packed for export.