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Visiting a Coffee Farm in Kiambu, Kenya | Ummi Goes Where?

Coffee Farm Tour: One of the Best Things to Do in Kenya

I was astonished to find out that Kenya wasn’t the biggest coffee producer in Africa. Back home, most of the imported coffees were from Kenya (apart from South American countries).

In fact, I booked a coffee-farm tour in Kenya solely because I thought they were the biggest coffee producer in Africa.

Kenyan Coffee Farm Tour

That just goes to show how well-known Kenyan coffee is, internationally.

And the reason is its quality.

The acidic soil in the highlands of Central Kenya, coupled with just the right amount of sunlight and rainfall provide excellent conditions for coffee plants to thrive. Kenyan coffee is known for its full body, intense flavor, and fragrant aroma with subtle notes of cocoa.

In 2012, it was estimated that there were about 150,000 coffee farmers in Kenya, and at least six million Kenyans who were employed directly or indirectly in the coffee industry.

So, your trip to Kenya wouldn’t be complete if you don’t pay a visit to one of the coffee farms in this beautiful East African country.

How to Book a Coffee Farm Tour in Kenya

If you’re in Nairobi, your best option is to go to Mbumi Coffee Estate in Kiambu. Booking can be made on Airbnb app/website or by clicking on this link.

At the time of writing, this tour has had close to 200 positive reviews. I have checked other tours on various booking platforms, but this one is the top-rated one so far.

What to Expect on the Coffee-Farm Tour

Getting There

Mbumi Coffee Estate is located in a district called Kiambu, 16 kilometers away from Nairobi. Depending on traffic, it could take you around 30 minutes to get there from Nairobi city center.

Boda boda in Kenya
Credit: Elkanah254 / Wikimedia Commons

The easiest way to get to the coffee estate is by Uber or boda-boda’s, which are motorbike taxis that you can either flag down by the roadside or book through online apps such as Uber Boda and Safe Boda.

It’s also possible to take a bus from Nairobi, but you need to know where to stop, and from the bus stop, you still have to continue the rest of the way by motorbike.

Susan of Mbumi Coffee Estate Kiambu Kenya
With Susan the host

I chose boda-boda, much to the horror of Susan the host, who said she would never let her children ride on one.

Little did she know that the roads and motorcycle taxis in Nairobi actually felt a lot safer than in neighboring Uganda. And I had taken boda-boda all the time when I was in Uganda.

Susan and her husband had lived on the Mbumi Coffee Estate for over 20 years. That was where they raised their 3 children. Her husband was the one who ran the day-to-day operations of the family coffee farm, and eventually it rubbed off on her.

Now, she combines her passions for coffee and meeting new people to allow visitors to discover the uniqueness of Kenyan national treasure.

Unfortunately, Susan wasn’t able to show me around on that day as she had to pick her children up. So, she placed me in the care of her assistant — Stanley — and assured me that I was in good hands.

The Coffee Farm

Mbumi Coffee Farm
Mbumi Coffee Farm
We didn’t tour the entire farm because there were 150 acres of it! Instead, Stanley took me to the nursery where the saplings were kept. He walked me through the different maturity stages of the coffee plants while telling me the history and background of Kenyan coffee.

Kenya’s coffee industry brings in about US$200 million per year, making it the country’s third largest export, after flowers and tea.

Unlike the bigger coffee producers in Africa, the coffees produced in Kenya are still 100% hand-picked, ensuring only the best quality — which explains why they produce less, and which is also why they are the coffees of choice for the international market.

Visiting a coffee farm in Kiambu, Kenya | Ummi Goes Where?
The different stages of coffee berries.
The right stage to be harvested.

Stanley taught me to differentiate coffee berries, coffee cherries, and coffee beans. We picked a few coffee berries of varying ripeness so that I could compare them.

The green, unripe ones were almost impossible to peel, while the ones that were so ripe that they turned black peeled easily but were very dry inside.

I was surprised to know that the beans — before being roasted to its familiar brown form — were actually whitish in color, slightly slimy, and sweet.

The Coffee Factory

Next, we moved on to the coffee factory.

After the coffee berries are picked, they will then be sorted. The green ones are sun-dried on wire mesh for 21 days and will be mixed with riper cherries to produce a more bitter coffee.
Coffee drying beds
Coffee drying beds
The red ones, on the other hand, are processed using the ‘wet method’, during which the cherries are separated by density in water for grading purpose. The heavier, better-quality cherries sink to the bottom, while the less dense ones float near the surface.

From there, they flow into fermentation tanks, where they are de-hulled, and the natural enzymes of the coffee cherries will loosen the slimy layer surrounding the beans, thereby giving Kenyan coffee a very unique flavor. Note that this fermentation stage is often skipped in many other countries.

Although the factory was not in operation during my visit (it was the low season), Stanley turned on some of the heavy machinery to demonstrate to me how they worked.
It was fascinating to see just how much work was involved in producing a single cup of coffee. In fact, it takes at least 3 years from the moment the seedlings are planted till the point when the beans are ready for consumption.

Roasting My Own Coffee 

The factory didn’t only contain heavy machinery, it also housed piles of burlap sacks filled with coffee beans of various grades. Stanley scooped up a handful of the best ones for me to roast and bring home.

To roast the beans, we had to go to the roasting room next to their office. There were two roasting machines — one small and one industrial-grade. Since we were only roasting a small amount, we used the smaller one.

Before we began, Stanley made me choose between medium roast and dark roast. To make the dark roast, we would have to roast the beans longer and at a higher temperature. He showed me samples of the finished products as below:

Medium roast Kenyan coffee
Medium roast
Dark roast Kenyan coffee
Dark roast

At first, I went for dark roast because it was more aesthetically pleasing and had a much stronger smell.

However, Stanley had a different opinion. He said that the dark roast was better as whole beans. If we ground it, it was going to lose its scent and flavor much faster. Since I wanted my coffee grinded, it was best that I made a medium roast.

Well, I had to trust the expert.

Roasting my own coffee at Mbumi Coffee Estate Kenya
Roasting my own coffee at Mbumi Coffee Estate, Kenya.

Coffee and Cake on the Rooftop

Hi-tea at Mbumi Coffee EstateWhile waiting for the roasted coffee beans to cool, we went to the rooftop to have some coffee.

There was a long table already laid out with two sets of baked goodies, fruits, and a jug of freshly brewed coffee.

Accompanying our meal was a picturesque view of the coffee farm. It was hard to realize how vast it was until you saw it from a high vantage point.

When we were done, we went back down to the roasting room and packed the coffee.

Stanley helped me call for a boda-boda to take me to the main road, and from there, I continued the rest of the way back to Nairobi on a matatu (public bus).

Final Thoughts on the Kenyan Coffee Tour

Kahawa Coffee Factory | Ummi Goes Where?
Kahawa Coffee Factory, Kiambu Kenya.

Truthfully, I’m not that much into caffeinated drinks. Coffee, especially, tends to give me a headache, a gassy stomach, and palpitations. But I would still give it a go every now and then, because who could resist the smell, right?

Besides, I love experiences like this one where you can actively participate, instead of just watching and listening. This coffee-farm experience gives you all of that, plus a souvenir to bring home to the coffee addicts in your life — if you’re not one yourself.

So, if you’re in Nairobi, you should definitely visit this coffee farm in Kiambu. Make sure you bring your own camera, comfortable walking shoes (preferably sport shoes), a hat, and arrange for your own transportation to and from the venue.

Have you visited any coffee farm before? Where did you go? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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    • ummi

      Ya bae, saya memang minat tour yang macam ni. Walaupun saya tak berapa minum kopi, tapi best tengok pemprosesan dia dari awal sampai akhir. Dan kita boleh try bakar kopi tu sendiri untuk bawa balik sebagai cenderamata. Rasa puas hati sebab tu hasil tangan kita sendiri (walaupun kita cuma tolong bakar je hehe).

    • ummi

      Actually masa kat kilang dia tu takde la bau coffee sangat. Masa roasting tu je bau. Tapi best la tour ni. Especially untuk peminat kopi. Saya yang bukan coffee fan ni pun enjoy. 🙂

    • ummi

      Oh, beza ya? Saya pun tak tau bezakan sebenarnya. Terima kasih, Nadia. Semoga info2 yang saya share di sini bermanfaat bagi mereka yang ingin pergi ke sana.

    • ummi

      Saya pun sebelum ni tak pernah tau rupa biji kopi sebelum diproses. Selalu tengok yang dah dibakar je. Coffee tour di Mbumi ni sangat complete sebab kita ditunjukkan dari peringkat semaian sampai la jadi serbuk kopi yang sedia untuk diminum

    • ummi

      Ya Kitkat, I’ve also been to the kopi luwak tour in Bali but that felt more commercialized, more like a coffee shop tour than a factory tour. This one in Kenya was more informative. If you go to Kenya, put this on your to-do list 🙂

  2. saidila abdul rahman

    Bagi saya kopi adalah terapi , tak minum lagipun bau dia dah cukup menyegarkan dan menenangkan hati dan perasaan. Ni kalau kongsi kat group FB Peminat Kopi mesti best. Manalah tahu satu hari nanti bila semua kembali normal bolehlah datang situ melawat ladang kopi dan kilangnya….

    • ummi

      Saya minum kopi juga but not a true fan la. Cuma saya memang minat tour yg involve food and drinks macam ni. Feel free to share this in the coffee lover groups if you’re a member. Would really appreciate it 🙂. Thanks, Saidila!

    • ummi

      Glad that you enjoyed reading this, Sienny. It was an enjoyable and informative tour even for a non-hardcore coffee drinker like me. 🙂

  3. farhana jafri

    Besarnya sampai 150 ekar ladang kopi dia! Mesti ramai pekerja dekat situ. Selalu tengok dalam iklan biji kopi dah coklat dah rupanya yang asli warna putih. Bestnya dapat experience merasa kopi Kenya!

    • ummi

      Ya, Farhana, memang luas ladang ni. Tapi masa saya pergi tu tak nampak pun pekerja dia sebab dah tengah hari. Diorang kerja awal pagi. Saya pun ni baru kali pertama tengok biji kopi sebelum diproses. Putih rupanya dan agak manis. Langsung takde bau atau rasa kopi. Kalau pergi ke Kenya atau mana2 negara pengeluar kopi, mesti cuba pergi tour ladang dia. 🙂

    • ummi

      Ya, Ayu. Tea farm dah biasa kan, kat Cameron Highlands. Sesekali kita pergi coffee farm pulak. Bukan setakat boleh tengok je, malah boleh cuba juga memproses kopi.

    • ummi

      Terima kasih, Min. Semoga blog ni memberi inspirasi dan idea2 baru untuk sesiapa yang ingin travel pada masa akan datang. Saya pun rindu nak travel ni.

    • ummi

      Yup, Kak Su. This place would be paradise for coffee lovers. The tour around the farm and factory only builds up your anticipation towards the climax — a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

    • ummi

      Betul tu Messarah. Selalu kita cuma beli sebagai cenderamata saja, tapi kali ni kita dapat belajar dan tengok sendiri macam mana diorang buat. Sangat menarik untuk kita melawat ke kilang2 penghasilan barangan tempatan di sesebuah tempat tu, terutama kalau produk tu ialah sumber pendapatan utama negara tersebut.

    • ummi

      Terima kasih, FD. Nak kata pengalaman yang paling best dalam hidup tu tak la, tapi memang sangat seronok melawat ke ladang kopi di Kenya ni. Sebab kita bukan saja dapat tengok kaedah pemprosesan kopi kat sini, tapi juga boleh turut serta. Siap boleh bawak balik lagi.

    • ummi

      Oo bestnya. Saya pernah jugak join kopi luwak tour kat Bali, tapi diorang tak tunjuk sangat pun cara proses kopi tu. Diorang just bagitau how it’s done, lepas tu terus buat coffee tasting. More like a shop tour, actually. Nanti saya cari info lebih lanjut lagi about the one in jogja. Thanks for letting me know, Iena.

  4. Sofinah Lamudin

    OMG! Saya coffee lover… selalu tgk dokumentari dalam TV je kalau bab bab proses kopi apa semua ni. You have the best experience kat sana, boleh tengok depan mata. Seronok dapat masuk coffee farm kat sana…

    • ummi

      Ya, Sofinah, memang seronok. Tambahan pula, Kenya ni memang antara pengeluar kopi terbesar di dunia, dan terkenal dengan kualitinya. Jadi, rasa beruntung dapat tengok sendiri macam mana cara penghasilan kopi di sini.

  5. Sis Lin

    Ini kalau Sis dapat pergi ni, memang gilaaa laaa minum kopi dan mebeli kopi, sebab Sis ni coffee lover, suka try macam-macam kopi.. nampak nikmatnyaaa laa secawan tu..

    • ummi

      Oh, kalau macam tu sis memang kena pergi la tempat ni, atau mana-mana ladang kopi yang lain. Dah tentu rasanya pun berbeza-beza. Mesti seronok bandingkan setiap satu.

  6. Stanley Mwangi

    HI UMMI.Thanks a lot for visiting Mbumi Coffee Farm here in Kenya. it was such a nice experience being your guide of the day..☕️☕️Coffee always

    Regards Stanley

    • ummi

      Hey, Stanley! So good to hear from you again. Thank you for the great experience and for sharing your knowledge with me at Mbumi Coffee Farm. I miss Kenya already!

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