Kenya is planning negotiations with US coffee major Starbucks to buy its beans straight from the country, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said.

Although Kenya is a small producer that accounts for less than 1% of the global crop, it is well-known for its high-quality arabica beans, which is sought after for blending with other varieties.  

The government is keen to expand its coffee market globally to reduce reliance on its traditional top buyers. 

The deputy president said that while Kenya has been trading its coffee to Europe through brokers, he believes that America, which consumes more coffee than any other country, has a ready market for the commodity.

Talks with Starbucks are imminent, the deputy president said, adding this would be a significant step in revitalising the East African country's coffee sector.

"The US ambassador to Kenya, Meg Whitman, is arranging a trip for Starbucks executives to visit Kenya to negotiate with President William Ruto and I, so that they can start buying coffee direct (from Kenya)," he said on Sunday.

Whitman has previously said that Kenya is a key destination for foreign direct investment and venture capital. 

The US Embassy in Kenya helped organise a three-day US road show in September for Ruto to meet investors. 

According to a US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service report issued in May, Kenya's marketing year (MY) 2023/24 coffee production is expected to increase 6.7 percent to 800,000 bags

This is due to a recovery from drought conditions and increased fertilizer application, the report said. 

MY 2023/24 coffee exports are anticipated to grow 5.5 percent to 760,000 bags as higher production increases exportable supplies, it said.

(Editing by Seban Scaria )