Coffee research in Kenya started in 1908 with the appointment of an Entomologist. In those early years coffee research was undertaken at the Scotts Laboratories (currently the National Agricultural Laboratories) in the outskirts of Nairobi. In 1944 the government purchased the Jacaranda Estate near Ruiru and established the Coffee Research Station.
In 1963, after considering requests by coffee farmers, the Government handed direct responsibility for the coffee research to the farmers. This change of responsibility culminated in the incorporation of Coffee Research Foundation as a company limited by guarantee on the 19th of August 1964.
In order to discharge its mandate, the Foundation has established research stations across the country. The substations are located at Mariene (Meru), Kisii, Kitale and Koru (Kipkelion). The Foundation also runs a demonstration plot at Namwela in Bungoma.
The Foundation prides itself with several achievements which have contributed significantly to the growth and development of the coffee industry in the country. Some of these achievements include selection of high yielding, high quality Arabica coffee varieties, such as, SL 28, SL34, K7; and the disease resistant hybrid variety Ruiru II; development of disease and insect pest management protocols. The Foundation also provides credible and responsive technical advisory and training services.
Coffee Research Foundation is funded mainly through a levy on coffee sales. However, in most of the years, funds from the levy have not adequately covered the Foundation’s budget. Towards overcoming this challenge, the Foundation has stepped up efforts to raisie funds from internal commercial activities, services, external grants and collaborative projects.