Oaklands Estate is one of Kenya’s oldest and largest coffee farms. Dating from colonial times, the farm was long owned by the Socfinaf Company, Kenya’s largest coffee plantation company at the time, which owned some twelve estates spread over 37,960 acres. The company, for many years, was one of only three licensed milling agents in Kenya and had significant influence over the development of the coffee sector in the country.
Today, many of these farms have been broken up, redistributed and/or subsumed by urbanisation, as Nairobi lies just beyond the farm’s bounds. Oaklands was acquired by the Kofinaf Company about a decade ago, and in 2017, Coffee Management Systems (CMS), one of Kenya’s premier marketing and agricultural extension services, took over the farm’s management. True to their reputation, CMS are making the most of Oaklands’ potential. They are working towards expanding and improving the farm’s specialty coffee offerings and are investing in the coffee mills and central workshop that lie within the farm itself.
The estate lies at a fairly level altitude of 1,575 metres above sea level. The soil is of the deep red volcanic type so common to the region. This area of Kenya has two distinct rainy seasons: March through May and October through December. Irrigation water is used to supplement the needs of the coffee farm in between seasons. The famous Ruiru River and two dams (Karimu and Bradgate) provide good access to water year round, and four boreholes scattered around the farm ensure that there is always sufficient water for domestic and processing use.