Coffee research in Kenya commenced in 1908. In 1944, the colonial government acquired Jacaranda farm at Ruiru and established the Coffee Research Station. Laboratories were constructed and completed in 1949 funded by the Government. The Coffee Research Foundation (CRF) was established in 1964 under the Company's Act (Cap 486). 

On 1st July 2014, four (4) State Corporations namely; Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), Tea Research Foundation (TRF), Coffee Research Foundation (CRF) and Kenya Sugar Research Foundation (KESREF) were effectively dissolved and merged to form Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). CRF was consequently transformed into Coffee Research Institute (CRI) as one of the institutes under KALRO.