Kenya Kericho Coffee is distinguished by its coffee varieties: Batian, Ruiru 11 SL28 and SL34. These varieties have a fascinating history. During the British colonial era in Kenya in the 1920s, the Scott Laboratory was established to improve agricultural practices through technical advice and training on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.
Coffee, already central to the Kenyan economy, became the main focus of research. Researchers were interested in finding varieties that offered long-term benefits, such as high yields and resistance to drought and pests.
The idea was to distribute these varieties to farmers, who would plant them on a large scale. Forty-two different coffee trees were selected for study in collaboration with the Lyamungo Research Station in Tanganyika (now Tanzania).
SL28 was identified on a single tree in Tanzania and soon became ubiquitous thanks to its drought resistance, high yield and desirable flavour profile. Since then, it has spread to other coffee-growing regions, including Uganda and Central America.
SL34 is also part of the Bourbon-Typica family and has adapted to grow in high altitude areas with a good amount of rainfall. This variety was found on a single tree on the Loresho Estate in Kabete, Kenya. This tree was labelled "French Mission", in reference to its historical ties with French missionaries who distributed the original Bourbon seeds from the island of Réunion.
Both varieties are known for their exceptional quality and high yields. However, they are also susceptible to diseases such as coffee rust and coffee berry disease.