Coffea Circulor Kenya Estates


Coffea Circulor Kenya Estates is at the hearth, birth and culmination of transparency in trade, quality and pricing in contemporary coffee production. Coffea Circulor acquired land in Meru initially spanning over 5,000m2 to research and produce of small-scale lots with attention to innovation and quality. With time, land area expanded and so did the possibilities. The result is an accumulated strive for improving farm practices, growing isolated and individual (“single-varieties”) indigenous and non-indigenous genetical varieties, research traditional and new fermentation protocols with dedicated drying techniques whilst addressing important issues that Coffea Circulor has identified in Kenyan coffee production while being operational since 2005 [1] .


Coffea Circulor Kenya Estates is located in the highest area of the Meru County, northeast of Nairobi in the Eastern Highlands. The farm area is situated in the 1st Upper Midland Zone also known as the Coffee-Tea Zone. The area is the leading county in horticulture production with rich volcanic soils inherited from Mount Kenya’s stratovolcano. The peak Batian intersects several counties. The area is influenced by the climate of the coast and in particular the eastern slopes of the mountain. Average annual temperature is ranging between minimum 20C to maximum 27C. Altitude ranges from 300 to 5,199 masl. Meru has a cool subtropical highland climate. Annual precipitation ranges between 300mm on the lower midlands to 2500mm in the south-east. Long rains fall from mid-March to May and from October to December. Short rains are present in January to February and June to September. The climate conditions, warm days and cold nights, provide unique conditions for replenishing water levels in the soil and the temperature conditions supply means for the coffee trees to grow and develop its cherries by slowing down the nutrient synthesis, draw more sugars into the cherries.

Top-left: Ivica Cvetanovski, Bottom-right: Batian and non indigenous seedlings (TBA), Right: Bundi and Macho. 


Coffea Circulor Kenya Estates consists of several micro-plots, isolated and planted with dedicated single-variety coffee trees cultivated for small-scale and high-end coffee production. Each plot is isolated from other trees to ensure genetic isolation is verified. Our responsibility is to perserve the environment in which coffee is cultivated and strive for upholding best farm practices by preserving as much of natural resources as possible. Balancing commercial production with usage of natural environments is difficult and over the years we have gained certain knowledge and understanding of how to achieve good environmental practices for the surrounding ecosystem. Initially, the farm area was a used as a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) setup and with time it transitioned to a fully owned estate by Coffea Circulor.

The farm uses a 'natural' approach to cultivation, maintenance and progression. No machines are used, no chemical pesticides or toxins are utilized during cultivation. Natural, organic fertilizers, such as for example excess coffee cherry (cascara) is repurposed and used in combination with organic compost to maintain a balance between the coffee trees and soil composition across the seasons. 


The coffee cherries are hand-picked from single-variety trees at strict full maturity which ranges between 22-23 Brix. The coffee cherries are processed directly on the farm with proprietary protocols, ensuring low latency from picking to processing, primarily based on in-cherry (natural) fermentation and drying protocols with occurring wet-based fermentations. Water is a scarce resource at the farm, hence a strong focus on removing water to the production as much as possible. The farm is surrounded by indigenous animal life such as bees and birds, which contribute to development of coffee tree flowering and natural yeast surrounding the coffee cherries. Each picking of one lot which is kept discrete, not to be blended or mixed with later cherry pickings in the season, ensuring some lots are truly ‘minimal’ and ‘unique’. In parallel, a small portion of the pick is fermented separately with variations of fermentation protocols for research purposes which make up Coffea Circulor Labs. These "prototypes" provide insight and ideas for refinements and innovation. Temperature, moisture and other important parameters are monitored to keep statistics over past year's production and ensure consistency.


Coffea Circulor favors in-cherry fermentation (natural) with pre- and post-fermentation protocols. These work on a stack-based principle, extending certain sensory characteristics. The natural-based approach has many advantages in coffee production as it is more cost efficient than traditional wet processing which is the de-facto standard in Kenya. Additionally, the natural processing can ultimately reduce the water usage in areas with water scarcity and spill water is removed which usually carries an unbalanced pH with microbes. This can disturb the natural soil composition when water is discharged. Coffea Circulor successfully pioneered the non de-facto standard processing of Kenyan coffee with one of the principal major releases. Drying of coffee cherries is carried out directly on the farm with dedicated structures and arrangements. Natural coffees require longer drying times because the coffee cherry is dried in parallel with the coffee beans. Meticulous planning is required on a seasonal basis as specific lots require dedicated space, timing and attention such as with day-night temperatures and physical with interchangeable location.


Coffea Circulor is transforming the classic Kenyan coffee harvesting, fermentation, drying and trade model which has traditionally been focused on wet fermentation and coffee acquisition of processing stations. Coffea Circulor identified Kenyan coffee producers to bring their coffee cherries to a collective processing station. Each “picked lot” or the harvest the producer were not separated by the specific "picked lot". All cherries are collectively processed from other lots of producers as well, removing the origin of the cherries and diluting quality.

Initiated in 2009, the pioneering effort and result introduced the concept of isolated varieties with dedicated fermentations and drying protocols. Coffees were produced on small scale, never to reach the public and only to research varieties, fermentations were refined and the effects of the fermentations were analyzed per individual variety basis. The principal and significant production that was introduced 2018 and gained interest among coffee aficionados around the world for its innovative approach to Kenyan coffee production, transparency, quality and pricing whilst also setting new sensory experience standards for coffees originating from Kenya. Several of the pioneering coffees attended acclaimed national and international coffee events and were praised and awarded for their achievements.


At Coffea Circulor, we believe gaining knowledge in all fields of engagement is crucial. As a pioneer in the 'modern' Kenya coffee production, we can target specific areas of interest, gather crucial data and apply this across a vast amount of areas. We can also learn and share information with other producers in our area to enhance quality and raise the socio-financial benefits for everybody. For the end customer, we can develop coffees based on our findings as in knowing how the coffee was produced on an intricate level and therefore also optimize the roasting. In parallel, we continue to research how specific varieties respond during specific conditions such as temperature, soil, fermentation and drying. 

"To fully understand and embrace transparency in coffee and go beyond disclosing origin provided by a third-party importer/exporter of coffee, for transparency quality and pricing, one has to produce one’s own coffees. This is non-linear a journey of creativity, innovation and risk. Although Coffea Circulor pioneered the concept of transparency in coffee production, only now can oneself be 100% accurate and lead by example by identifying True Development Costs (TDC) in the production and logistics chain by also cross-referencing Customer Expectancy Prices (CEP) for established production processing stations. This has been the principle driver for and goal of Coffea Circulor Kenya Estates."

- Ivica Cvetanovski, Founder, Coffea Circulor


[1] Learn more about the history and precursors to Coffea Circulor's Kenya operations here.