Specialty Coffee: From Bean to Cup

Explore the Fascinating Journey of Specialty Coffee from the Lush Kenyan Highlands to Your Coffee Mug.
May 1, 2024 by
Gladys Kyule
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Have you ever experienced the irresistible allure of waking up to the rich aroma of freshly brewed specialty coffee? It's a sensory delight that can coax even the sleepiest soul out of bed with anticipation. Now, imagine savoring the intricate flavors of Kenyan coffee beans meticulously sourced by Solai Coffee—the holy grail for specialty brewers! 

You can't miss this incredible experience, thanks to the wine-like acidity complementing Kenyan coffee's fruity, bright, and bold flavors. 

Order your specialty coffee today and experience pure bliss from Kenya!

For millennials and coffee enthusiasts alike, a cup of Kahawa inspires new desires with each sip, a testament to the dedication and craftsmanship behind every batch of specialty coffee. Lets delve into the captivating journey of Kenyan coffee from bean to cup.

What is Specialty Coffee?

Specialty coffee refers to the highest grade of single-origin coffee available. These coffees are grown in specific regions with unique microclimates, producing exceptional flavors. 

Kenyan coffee exemplifies this distinction, particularly the renowned Solai Coffee from the Kenyan highlands. The coffee is known for its bright acidity and bold flavors—qualities that baristas love for creating specialty drinks.

Did you know that Kenyan coffee is often on the bucket list for its outstanding quality in the specialty segment? 

The Process of Cultivating Specialty Coffee

Producing specialty coffee is no easy feat—it involves meticulous attention to detail at every step. From the lush Kenyan highlands to your coffee mug, each stage demands precise execution to preserve the exceptional quality of specialty coffee. 

Kenyan coffee farmers are known for their dedication to the intricate craftmanship of growing excellent quality coffee beans. Hence, they take great pride in the quality of their coffee. 

Coffee producers and a coffee farmer inspecting a healthy coffee tree on the picturesque Liwani Coffee Estate in the lush Kenyan highlands.

Coffee Planting and Harvesting

Did you know that coffee beans start as seeds that eventually grow into coffee trees? These seeds are carefully nurtured in shaded nurseries to control factors like sunlight, humidity, and pests until they develop into seedlings ready for planting. Under optimal climatic conditions, it typically takes around four years for these seedlings to mature into coffee trees.

One unique aspect of specialty coffee harvesting is the role of women. These skilled workers, often preferred by farmers for their ability to identify and harvest the ripest cherries, play a crucial part in maintaining the exceptional quality of Kenyan coffee. This preference may stem from cultural traditions or simply the observed skill of women in this labor-intensive task.

Healthy coffee seedlings growing under shade in a nursery setting.Women carefully harvesting ripe coffee cherries in a selective farming setting at Wagika Farm in Kenya.

Processing Coffee Cherries

The processing stage is crucial for maintaining the beans' quality and distinctive flavors. Immediately after harvest, the cherries undergo processing to extract the coffee beans inside. 

Specialty coffee processing commonly employs two main methods: the washed (wet) and natural (dry) methods. 

Farmers in Kenya favor the wet method for ensuring top-notch specialty quality. This method involves pulping the cherries to remove the outer skin and then fermenting them to break down the mucilage layer, a process that enhances the beans' inherent flavors.

Following pulping and fermentation, the beans undergo thorough washing and drying to remove the parchment envelope and reduce moisture content. Drying is a critical step that requires precise execution to prevent mold or over-drying, which can adversely affect the beans' quality. 

Coffee farmers take great care during this stage to preserve the unique characteristics of their specialty coffee beans, resulting in exceptional flavor profiles that coffee enthusiasts cherish.

Read more on coffee harvesting process in Kenya here

Milling and Exporting Coffee Beans

Before export, coffee beans undergo milling to enhance their quality. Hulling machines remove the remaining layers of the coffee cherry, followed by optional polishing to remove any remaining silver skin. 

The beans are then sorted and graded based on size, weight, and color imperfections. After the meticulous processing of specialty coffee cherries, the resulting green coffee beans are packed and prepared for export. 

Solai Coffee operates on a unique farm-direct model, which serves as a vital link between farmers and consumers. This direct approach ensures transparency and fosters a deeper appreciation for the origin of each coffee bean, making your coffee experience more meaningful. It prioritizes economic, environmental, and social sustainability throughout its operations, supporting the livelihoods of Kenyan coffee farmers and promoting environmentally responsible practices.

Read more about direct sourcing here.

Coffee huller machine processing specialty coffee beans

Roasting and Sampling

Roasting specialty coffee is a delicate process that demands precision to highlight the unique flavor notes of Kenyan coffee beans. In the specialty coffee industry, medium to medium-dark roasts bring out the nuanced flavors characteristic of Kenyan beans.

Baristas approach roasting with meticulous care, weighing and sampling medium roast beans to ensure optimal flavor extraction and consistency in each batch brewed. Kenyan coffee beans are often blended with other single-origin beans to create a balanced and flavorful base for specialty coffee drinks.

Grinding and Brewing

Grinding and brewing coffee are essential elements involved in preparing specialty coffee. These processes unlock the unique flavors and aromas hidden within carefully roasted beans.

The grind size is a critical factor determined by the brewing method to optimize flavor extraction. 

For espresso enthusiasts, a fine grind is essential to ensure proper extraction under high pressure, resulting in a concentrated shot with a luscious crema. On the other hand, pour-over aficionados prefer a medium grind to allow for a balanced and nuanced extraction that highlights the coffee's origin characteristics.

Tip: Use burr grinders for their ability to produce consistent particle sizes, ensuring an even extraction and a flavorful cup of coffee.

Crafting the Sensory Experience

Brewing coffee is where the magic happens, as hot water interacts with the ground coffee to create a delightful sensory experience. Each brewing method offers a unique perspective on the flavor profile of specialty coffee:

  • Espresso: For those seeking a robust and intense shot, espresso delivers a concentrated burst of flavor with a velvety crema.
  • Pour-Over: Ideal for highlighting the nuanced flavors of single-origin coffees, pour-over brewing provides clarity and finesse in flavor extraction.
  • French Press and Cold Brew: Millennials and Gen Z often gravitate towards French press and cold brew for their smooth, flavorful profiles—perfect options for those seeking convenience without compromising taste.

Elevate your coffee routine with our specialty roasted beans and the effortless brewing method of the French press—a must-have gadget for coffee lovers on the go. 

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Gladys Kyule May 1, 2024
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