Coffee was first planted in Kenya’s coast province as early as 1885 and with the high demand for coffee in the European markets it became Kenya’s main export crop by the 1920’s. As it was with the majority of colonized coffee producing countries, the final processing did not happen in the country of origin, instead it was shipped in parchment form for mainly the European markets and other continents.
The Nairobi coffee exchange was started in the 1930’s, an auction system that proved suitable for small estate farmers since it took into account their interests. In the 1950’s African farmers were allowed to grow coffee resulting in a significant increase in small scale farmers. The majority of these small-scale farmers formed co-operatives in a bid to increase their volumes and in turn their bargaining power. Majority of small scale farmers are still members of co-operatives.
To this day the majority of Kenyan coffee is still sold through the auction that happens almost every Tuesday of the week.