Kenyan Coffee and Nescafe

Monday’s Standard reports that Kenya is only consuming 5% of its own coffee production, terming this a risk to the success of the sector.

The Kenyan government’s lack of appreciation for the value of the cachet of Kenyan coffee was brought home to me quite quickly upon my arrival in Nairobi as director for the International Republican Institute. Calling on the Minister of Trade and Industry, we were served the usual choice of tea or instant Nescafe, as in the various other offices of high government officials and politicians. When the Trade Minister of a country with a reputation for growing some of the world’s finest coffee is serving Nescafe to his visitors, there is an obvious disconnect somewhere.

A local coffee house in New Orleans sells what it calls a Kenyan Press for brewing coffee. It appears to be quite the same as what the rest of us would call a “French Press”–basically a simple glass cylinder with a lid with a plunger with a screen to filter the brewed grounds and hold them at the bottom when the coffee is poured. Obviously the label “Kenyan” has market value to coffee drinkers. From my experience, it was in fact very hard (and unduly expensive) to actually buy a French Press in Nairobi.

It would be great to see Kenyans taking pride in the reputation of the quality of their coffee production and to see the government paying attention to promoting the market (rather, than, perhaps, being too distracted by worrying about who is going to win the next election).

Addendum:  Turns out I have a picture of the coffee maker in New Orleans, a Bodum “Kenya Coffee Maker” that is also labeled in smaller print “French Press”:

AfriCommons, on Flickr”>"Kenya Coffee Maker"

Here is a link to more information and reviews from “dooyoo”. “Cafetiere (the French for coffee pot) has become the established description in Britain but ‘French Press’, or ‘Coffee Plunger’ is used in other parts of the world,” says reviewer “suehome”.