SL34 Coffee: A Kenyan Coffee Cultivar
You’d probably expect a name like SL34 to be the title of the next best coffee grinder or espresso machine. But it’s the name of a Kenya coffee cultivar known as SL34 coffee!
What is SL34 coffee? How does this plant look like and handle the dreaded coffee leaf rust, among other diseases that threaten our precious coffee? Is it related to Typica or Bourbon?
Read more about SL34 coffee.
What Is SL34 Coffee?
SL34 coffee is a coffee cultivar most commonly found and grown in Kenya. SL34 coffee plants are tall with dark bronze-tipped leaves. They have a high yield with large coffee beans that produce an exceptionally-ranked cup quality when grown at high altitudes full of rainfall (1).
Unfortunately, this type of coffee is highly susceptible to coffee leaf rust, coffee berry disease, and nematodes.
SL34 coffee plants are vulnerable. However, they are surprisingly low-maintenance regarding human intervention to care for them. It takes three years for one of these plants to start its first year of production, but once it does, it is highly rated and highly resistant to natural and human forces. Even with years of neglect and a lack of attention or fertilizer, these plants can still produce coffee. Of course, it will do so with lower returns. But this decrease in yield is easily correctable once you resume caring for these coffee plants (2).
Most of the coffees we [see in Kenya] are SL varieties, and they are [generally] all rated highly. The only defects we tend to see come as a result of insect damage and disease… apart from that, the SL varieties’ large cherries mean good prices for the farmer.
Science traces SL34 coffee’s lineage to Typica coffee beans. Typica is a variety of Arabica. Read to learn more about Arabica coffee beans as well as the different coffee bean types that exist.
For more on the SL34 coffee cultivar, check out this YouTube video.
SL34 coffee is a Kenyan cultivar known for being tall with dark bronze-tipped leaves with a high yield of excellence in its cup quality. Sadly, it is vulnerable to coffee leaf rust, berry disease, and nematodes. Despite this, these Typica-related plants are low maintenance and are highly independent with their neglect tolerance.
SL28 coffee is one of the most famously treasured Kenyan coffee beans. It is a coffee cultivar like SL34. The characteristic flavor profile of the SL28 is unlike any other and features a hearty tomato soup-like earthiness with a sharp acidic undertone. Although the SL28 is resistant to drought, it is still susceptible to various coffee-related diseases. It is related to Bourbon coffee beans ever so popular. Like the SL34, the SL28 is tall with a high yield and an exceptionally-ranked cup quality.
SL in coffee stands for Scott Labs. SL34 originated in the late 1930s in the Kenyan Lab known as Scott Agricultural Laboratories. Scott Labs gave the prefix SL to all coffees selected between 1935 and 1939. The Kenyan government hired this lab to discern the nation’s most economically viable coffee cultivars. SL34 comes from one particular tree, the French Mission on the Kenyan Loresho Estate in Kabete, which collaborated with Scott Labs on research.
The two Kenyan grading levels that produce the best coffee quality are Kenya Peaberry beans and Kenya AA beans. These are in the larger Grade E, or Elephant Grade, grouping, which denotes the biggest Kenyan beans. Other Kenyan coffee bean grading levels include AB, C, TT, T, and MH/ML. Lower-grade coffees’ flavor profiles are sourer and of a lower quality compared to the sweetness of higher-grade beans (3).
- World Coffee Research. (n.d.). SL34. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://varieties.worldcoffeeresearch.org/varieties/sl34
- Gakuo, P. (2021, February 16). Exploring popular Kenyancoffee varieties: SL-28 & SL-34. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2021/02/exploring-popular-kenyan-coffee-varieties-sl-28-sl-34/
- Intercontinental Coffee Trading. (2020, July 15). Coffee From Kenya: 7 Major Facts You Should Know About KenyanCoffee Beans. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from https://www.ictcoffee.com/coffee-from-kenya-7-major-facts-you-should-know-about-kenyan-coffee-beans/