The Coffee Bar
In the Begining, A brief History
Before the mid 19th century, the vast interior of modern-day Kenya, inhabited by nomadic pastoralists and agriculturalists, was unknown to the western world. Coastal trade connections did, however, exist as early as the 9th century with Arab and Asian cultures spawning the rich heritage found today in most coastal towns.
Kenya's interior was first explored by German missionaries, keen to spread Christianity amongst the heathen tribes. Their stories of snowcapped mountains and huge inland lakes on the equator sparked off several famous and well documented expeditions.
The subsequent scramble for territory was regulated by the act of Berlin in 1885 to avoid the risk of serious clashes between the conflicting European powers. Britain was granted the region which lay behind Mombasa, stretching to Lake Victoria, whilst Germany acquired territory to the South. The Imperial British East Africa Company, founded in 1888, became responsible for the development of the region, and the creation of trade and administrative centers, such as Nairobi and Kisumu, followed.
There is no doubt that the construction of the Ugandan Railway, completed in 1901, and the arrival in Kenya of European settlers was of paramount importance to the development of the country and the whole region as a whole. The settlers introduced plantation agriculture, the main crops including coffee, tea, sisal, wheat and pyrethrum.
In 1920 Kenya officially became a British colony. The first rumblings of discontent amongst the oppressed natives in the 1950's erupted in the violent 'Mau Mau' revolt before independence was granted in 1963. Since then Kenya, as one of the most peaceful and stable countries on the continent, has progressed under the leadership of three presidents.
Coffee In Kenya
It is thought that coffee was growing at the French Mission at Bura on the Taita hills as far back as 1885. However, documents show that the plant was introduced to Kenya by a John Paterson on behalf of the Scottish Mission in 1893. The seed, obtained from the agents of the British East India Company, Smith Mackenzie & Co., at Aden, was sown at Kibwezi, near Mombasa, and in 1896 the first crop was reaped.
The year 1896 saw coffee first introduced into the Kiambu-Kikuyu district, a fertile area, which by 1912 boasted plantations several hundred acres in size, growing predominately the Bourbon and Kent varieties.
Whilst credit for the introduction of coffee rests with the Missions, it was the settlers who accelerated its importance to the economy as they were actively encouraged to grow crops for export in order to help repay the then exorbitant costs of building the railway.
After independence, the long acquired expertise and the tremendous know-how of coffee production have been well adapted by indigenous Kenyan farmers, resulting in todays high coffee quality standards which are so well known by coffee drinkers around the world.