Some of the world’s best Arabica beans are grown on the fertile land around Mount Kenya. But like the citizens of many former British colonies, Kenyans are partial to tea. Now an expanding middle class is getting a taste for coffee. Domestic consumption is expected to reach 3,600 tonnes this year, almost a tenth of total production. The pandemic has shown just how important a local market can be, as log jams at ports and a sharp drop in global demand crush exports. “Covid has been an eye-opener,” says Gloria Gummerus, who runs the Sakami estate in western Kenya. Out front at Spring Valley Coffee, the well-heeled brave the noise and fumes to sip flat whites topped with rippling hearts by a trendy young barista. In a single room tucked away behind a petrol pump in central Nairobi, men toil over a whirling drum, a shiny metal rack and heaps of sacks marked “Produce of Kenya”. The coffee they roast sells for as much as $11 per 250 grams online.
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