Coffee was first planted in Kenya at Bura in Taita Hills in 1893 and thereafter, grown at Kibwezi, under irrigation in 1900, and at Kikuyu near Nairobi in 1904.
At that time, there was no statutory control, in terms of crop husbandry, production, processing, grading and marketing. The marketing of coffee was handled by individuals and through rudimentary institutions between 1900 and 1933. In the 1930's, following the Devonshire White Paper Report of 1923, the Colonial Government allowed controlled planting of coffee outside the European settled areas in Kisii and Meru in particular.
On request by coffee farmers, the colonial government enacted the Coffee Industry Ordinance in 1932, and established Coffee Board (CB) in January 1933. The Ordinance was re-enacted in 1934 and amended severally later. The role of Coffee Board was regulatory and promotion, that is, licensing, inspectorate and promotion.
The Kenya Coffee Auctions, as a mode of selling Kenyan coffee, was established in 1934 and the liquoring department of Coffee Board was created in 1935 to enhance the grading and selling of coffee. The first coffee auction was inaugurated in September 1935 when the first coffee was auctioned.
The Coffee Marketing Board (CMB) was established under the Coffee Marketing Ordinance No. 6 of 1946 and became fully operational on 1 July 1947 to cater for the coffee marketing activities with its functions being central warehousing, sale of coffee at central auction, liquoring and financing.
Ordinance No 26 of 1960 consolidated the Coffee Industry Ordinance and the Coffee Marketing Ordinance into the Coffee Ordinance Cap 333. The Coffee Ordinance, Cap 333, commenced on 5 July 1960 when Coffee Board of Kenya (CBK) and CMB were established under the same law.
Act 13 of 1971 abolished the CMB and consolidated the function of coffee marketing with the regulatory functions of the CBK. Since then, CBK has been controlling the industry up to July 2001 when a new Coffee Act was enacted to amend Cap 333 that specified new roles for CBK as an industry regulator.
The specific roles include: Generally, to formulate policies to enhance coffee production, processing and marketing, in the country and globally and specifically to register and license coffee operations in the country, including coffee marketing agents, auctioneers and management agents.