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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Coffee from Kenya

Mount Kenya is one of the tallest peaks on the planet. That's an appropriate metaphor for the coffee that comes from this region, since coffee from Kenya is one of the finest brews on Earth.

But beyond literary allusions, there's a real benefit to the area in which these superb beans are grown. The high plateaus of Mount Kenya provide excellent climatic conditions for growing coffee plants.

Add to that the volcanic soil and you have a stellar combination for growing some of the world's finest coffee beans.

In this region there are now thousands of small farms, farms that may average only a half acre. But thanks to those small plots, individual, careful attention can be given to the plants.

Fortunately, there also exists a system of cooperatives that allows these small farmers to efficiently market their product. Coffee drinkers everywhere are the beneficiaries.

Coffee from Kenya is famous for its intense flavor and full body. That flavor isn't overwhelming, though. For reasons known best to coffee chemists, the strong acidity of Kenyan coffee is well-balanced resulting in a pleasant tang, rather than a bitter jolt.

Some of that heady flavor is the result of using primarily AA beans in gourmet Kenyan coffee. The ratings - AA, AB, PB, C, E, TT, and T - refer, not directly to the quality, but to the size of the bean. But size matters.

The larger the bean, the greater the accumulation of fine coffee oils. It's those oils that produce many of the hundreds of compounds that combine to produce a fine cup. The larger the bean, all other things being equal (which, admittedly, isn't always the case) the more heady the aroma and the more flavorful the cup.

Though each individual coffee aficionado will naturally have his or her favorite, anyone who enjoys fine coffee will give a Kenya AA high marks. It is the perfect way to start a busy day, or sooth the nerves after a hectic afternoon. Try some and find out for yourself why.

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