At its best, Kenyan coffee is quite remarkable with a quality and intensity rarely matched elsewhere. The coffees have a bold, effervescent acidity combined with delicious citrus fruit and berry flavours. The gaze of coffee buyers usually heads north of Nairobi to Central Province and the coffees centred around the town of Nyeri. However, heading south and east to the Machakos area there are some equally delicious coffees to be found. A lot of the Machakos coffee grows in a horseshoe shaped mountain range that rises from the Savanna leading to Tanzania, with an altitude to rival that of Nyeri, and it’s here that members of the Kaliluni co-operative society grow coffee.
One impact of coffee being less common in the south east than the central part of Kenya is that individual factorys like Kaliluni fall under a more centralised behemoth of a co-operative society. The Machakos co-operative society union is an umbrella organisation looks after the welfare and income of a staggering sixty thousand members. Handicrafts and other incomes from coffee are covered within this member base. Importantly for coffee members is the fact that Machakos manages its own milling once the coffee is processed and rested via its LECOM mill. This helps reduce costs of further processing and creates more value for the coffee farmers than if the coffee was prepared for export in Nairobi.
Most of the coffee grown in this area is of the SL28 and SL34 varietals. Both cultivars have Bourbon and Moka heritage and are named after the laboratory that promoted their wider distribution in Kenya during the early 20th century – Scott Laboratories, now the National Agricultural Laboratories of Kenya.