Tanzania has been considered by traders as a “lesser Kenya” in many respects. That’s not fair though.
In the commercial business, it is the source of less spendy, mildly acidic coffees via the weekly marketing auction in Moshi. But the quality potential of In terms of the Tanzania coffee character, it belongs to the Central/East African family of washed (wet-processed) coffees, bright (acidy), and mostly aggressively flavorful of which Kenya is... coffee has been difficult to realize due to a number of factors.
Tanzanian coffees can be a more balanced version of neighboring Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both in the cup, and the way they run their trade, everything is topnotch.: Kenya is the East..., which is loaded with top end, bright Acidity is a positive flavor attribute in coffee, also referred to as brightness or liveliness. It adds a brilliance to the cup, whereas low acid coffees can seem.... Tanzanias can also be high-toned, but the acidity is usually more integrated into the cup flavors, less dominant, while In some coffee taster’s lexicon, “fruity” means the coffee is tainted with fruit, and “fruited” means a coffee is graced by positive fruit notes. We don't exactly see... notes and Associated with and sensed by mouthfeel, body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew, caused by the percentage of soluble solids in the cup, including all... play a greater role in the overall cup character. In my experience, what actually arrives in the U.S. Specialty market often shows some degree of flavor fading or other damage. It’s difficult to truly know what Tanzania coffees cup like based on the arrival lots from the usual importers and brokers.
What is the Flavor Profile implies a graphical impression of a particular coffee, whether it be an artistic portrait or data graph of the perception of flavor compounds. In the case... of a great coffee from Tanzania? And how can a buyer working at In coffee talk, it refers to a coffee-producing region or country; such as, "I was just at origin." Of course "Origin" for most product we use is not... actually locate, process and ship a top quality coffee from Tanzania? The answer is not so simple.
PB is The Spanish-language term for Peaberry is the same for "snail". See Peaberry for more information on the single bean fruit of the coffee tree. A peaberry is the... (…and not Peanut Butter)
Oddly, much of the Tanzania coffee marketed in the United States is A peaberry is a green coffee "bean" that has a rounded form: Coffee is the dried seed from the fruit of a flowering tree - each fruit having..., PB grade. Peaberry (the fruit that has one rounded seed in it rather than two beans possessing a flat side) usually represents about 5% of the coffee harvested from a tree. Plants that are not pruned well, with nutrition or root structure problems, will produce more peaberry fruits, which are generally found at the ends of the coffee shrubs secondary branches.
It may also be the chronic water shortages found in parts of Tanzania result in more aborted coffees seeds, and hence more peaberry. But it appears that the bulk of the coffee shipped to the main buying nation for Tanzania, Japan, are AA and AB grades in which the PB is sorted out, redirected to the US market. Peaberry might have slightly more acidity and a different roast dynamic than the AA and AB grades from the same tree, but the difference is often slight. The problem is in logistics of producing a lot of coffee for export: If you wait and wait to bulk up peaberry to fill a container, you are mixing old coffee and new, good lots and bad, high-grown and low-grown batches. Bulking without quality oversight is rarely good.
Rumor has it that Japan Loves Tanzania
Tanzania has had a strong value as a Single Origin refers to coffee from one location, in contrast to blended coffee. This term is particularly useful in discussing espresso, since most commercial espressos are made from... in Japan, where in some years more than 60% of the crop finds a home. (Some say the significance among Japanese consumers is that Mt. Kilimanjaro bears a strong resemblance to Mt. Fuji). Germany and the U.S. also buy heavily, especially in years where the Japanese economy is off. When an origin has a strong market, for example Saudi Arabia paying very high prices for Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee: it is in the forests of the Kaffa region that coffee arabica grew wild. Coffee is "Bun" or "Buna" in Ethiopia, so... Harar coffee no-matter the quality, farmers and exporters known that they can sell their product with little investment: It’s a disincentive for quality.
The auction system itself has been a barrier to exploring direct buying relationships that might result in higher cup quality. While auctions are discovery mechanisms for higher prices, they also stand as a barrier to the buyer who wants to enter a stable relationship with a grower. Historically, centralized auctions expressed a certain power relationship as well: The farmer is tasked with all the work to bring the coffee in the trader/exporter to sell. It’s quite easy for the traders to sit in the capital city and make the coffee come to them, a relation that suggests colonialism.
Coffee Damaged Before It Has a Chance
But my experience and frustration in trying to source Tanzania coffees has revolved mostly around the cup quality itself. The potential is there; the altitudes, the varieties of coffee shrubs, the type of The removal of the cherry and parchment from the coffee seed.: Coffee is either wet-processed (also called washed or wet-milled) or dry-processed (also called wild, natural or natural..., even the expertise of the farmers and advisors. A “type sample” or an “offer sample” might be beautiful, bright, clean and sweet. But actually exporting and receiving that coffee in Oakland has been difficult or impossible using the normal channels. As we embark now on a more direct route, initiated by my recent visit there, I’ll explain my experience of the recent past.
The harvest in some areas is in the driest months of the year. The same distinct dry season that aids in harvesting and drying the coffee also means competition with other water uses, specifically household use and drinking water. That’s not a good conflict to enter into, but recent implementation of low water consuming eco-pulpers is one solution. This weather can mean a great temptation to dry coffee too quickly, which can reduce cup quality itself as well as longevity of flavors once the coffee is in the storehouse stateside. That temptation is underscored because the government prohibits the trade in Originally coffee literature referred to the fruit of the tree as a "berry" but in time it became a cherry. It is of course neither. Nor is the.... A farmer must sell the dried Green coffee still in its outer shell, before dry-milling, is called Parchment coffee (pergamino). In the wet process, coffee is peeled, fermented, washed and then ready for drying... to a miller or a collector or a coop. So if you have 30 kgs of parchment on your patio ready to convert into Shillings, you are going to want that money sooner rather than later; dry faster, get paid now.
If coffee is not over-dried at the Farm Gate Coffee is the name we give to our direct trade coffee buying program. Farm Gate pricing means that we have negotiated a price directly with the..., it often is in the local warehouse or A facility that accepts dried coffee cherry and mechanically separates the coffee bean from the dried fruit and parchment layer. The facility can be highly mechanized, as in.... In the South were I visited there were extreme cases of the coffee drying out while bulked up in the “Either the resting of parchment coffee after drying, or for the home roaster, post-roast resting.: Resting might refer to "reposo", the time after drying the parchment coffee, when... period” or conditioning period. And the way the local dry mill was operating, which was along the lines of bulk commercial throughput and not specialty small lot processing, I heard of a coffee being sent in at 12% moisture and coming back a few days later at 9%. That’s a quality killer there, and is often the result of frictional heat created in the huller or polisher, if there is one.
Dar, Where Coffee Dies
If you have an over-dried coffee, it won’t be for long. Send it to the muggy seaside port capital of Dar Es Salaam and your moisture will be back up to 12% in no time. The warehouses in Dar are not set up for temperature sensitive products. Most of the coffee goes to warehouses designed for grains like corn. The port has other logistic challenges, including sourcing of available containers (there are often shortages for lack of imports) or the coffee container missing the vessel, and spending an extra week or four in this humid maritime environment.
A contributing factor to the logistic snags is a thread that runs across all steps of the coffee trade here; bureaucracy. The Tanzanian coffee trade is filled with bureaucratic snags. Tanzania has vestiges of it’s somewhat checkered past, in particular the ’70s when large coffee farms were nationalized by the state, as was all aspects of trade.
To do business in Tanzania now requires a literal landslide of forms to submit, permits to possess, and, for those extra-slow cogs, someone who wants to be paid off. So it makes sense that trying to export one shipment also requires an extended set of documents and approvals from more than a few uncoordinated agencies operating out of different cities. In the meantime, while a document sits on one desk awaiting a signature, a vessel sails off, and the coffee sits another month losing whatever fine taste it used to express in the cup.
History of Risk
These problems have meant a greater risk to try to work directly with coffee sources in Tanzania. My approach has been to contract lots when they are in transit, based on samples, but reserve the right to reject them on arrival if they show signs of age. This is referred to in the trade as SAS/NANS, which means Subject to Approval of Sample / No Approval No Sale. In other words, I have had to shift the risk to the importer, because I don’t believe all the good Offer Samples will actually arrive with an equally high level of quality.
2014 is the first year we will be working direct, which you can read as, we are selecting lots in Tanzania with the help of exporters, visiting the farmer groups and estates that cup well, and thinking ahead to longer term relationships. In part this is possible because the Coffee Board allows direct sales now; every Coffee can be separated by lot in any number of ways usually by the processor to distinguish one area of the farm, a particular altitude, particular trees, a... is not required to go through the auction. And secondly, we have found some good partners on the ground who understand quality. While it means we take greater risk on the coffee delivered to us, having exporters in the country who are clear about the expectation of cup quality, and are taking steps to mitigate the short-comings of the “usual way” coffee is handled, means it is a good time for me to take a more active role in sourcing in Tanzania.
We’re Down with the FBG
Tanzania has a Hibrido de Timor abbreviated HdT is the interspecies hybrid of C. Arabica and C. Canephora (Robusta) that was found in Timor Leste in the 1940s. It has been... of coffee farmers, from the older large estates that are rooted in colonial days, to local coops (called an FBG, Farmer Business Group), to nationally organized Cooperatives. Many of the the biggest estates, especially those owned by people of foreign descent, were nationalized by the government during the socialist-leaning administrations of the ’70s. However quite a few remain, and one we have enjoyed in the past from the Ngorogoro area, Blackburn A "coffee estate" is used to imply a farm that has its own processing facility, a wet-mill. In Spanish this is called an Hacienda. A Finca (farm) does..., has some fine coffee. In the South Kanji Lalji is a large, old farm with nice quality, and since the owner is Tanzanian by birth, they avoided the forces of nationalization, as did quite a few estates in the South.
Farmer Business Groups are usually organized around a few larger members that may have 5 or 10 hectare farms (in contrast to the estates which might be 100+ We use this metric term often to discuss the size of coffee farms. 1 Hectare = 10000 Square Meters = 2.471 acres: We use this metric term often...). In visiting these groups, I understood how attractive the model was: small farmers, often 50-100 in number, can pool their resources, process their coffee in a coordinated way, split up labor-intensive activities among the members, and market their coffee in unison looking for a better price. A FBG avoids the bureaucratic burden of a nationally-recognized cooperative, while gaining some of the benefits. They can also receive support as a group from an exporter, such as financing to buy Either a flavor in the coffee, or referring to the fruit of the coffee tree, which somewhat resembles a red cherry.: Either a flavor in the coffee, or... in the harvest (which an exporter cannot do directly), receive fertilizer inputs, assistance with wet-mill machinery, the advice of a trained agronomist, and more uniform quality by coordinated wet-milling at a single location.
HP and CPU – It’s Not Tech Talk
To elaborate a bit on coffee processing in Tanzania, there are two categories of wet-mills; HP and CPU. I know, it sounds like we’re talking computer hardware … but HP means Home Processed coffee and CPU is Central Processing Unit. Throughout East Africa, HP coffee has existed as the fastest, cheapest way for a farmer to get their coffee into parchment and sell it to local collectors. HP coffee is often pulped in a hand crank machine each night, As a defect flavor, a fruit quality in a coffee that is excessively ripe, toward rotten. Fermented flavor can be the result of poor wet-processing, over-ripe cherry, or... in a plastic tub or small concrete tank, washed and dried beside the family home, and sold in the local market, or to a buyer who comes around offering cash. There is almost always a great lack of uniformity in the processing, and because it’s all mixed together, the coffee is usually tainted by As an aroma or flavor in coffee, ferment is a defect taste, resulting from bad processing or other factors. Ferment is the sour, often vinegar-like, that results from..., Earthy is a flavor term with some ambivalence, used positively in some cases, negatively in others.: Sumatra coffees can have a positive earthy flavor, sometimes described as "wet... tastes from bacterial A key part of the wet process of coffee fruit is overnight fermentation, to break down the fruit (mucilage) layer that tenaciously clings to the coffee seed, so... or mold from being bulked up when it is still wet.
Interestingly, there is nothing inherently wrong with home processing: In Central America you have huge coops with coffee that is essentially a blend of hundreds of HP batches blended together, and the coffees can be clean and tasty. But a great effort has to be made in training farmers to process uniformly, and to seek out tainted lots to exclude them from the top grade exports. In some African nations, HP coffee is seen as a scourge that keeps farmers from ever realizing better payments for their product. Rwandan coffee was, at one time, rarely seen in the United States as either a Specialty grade or low-end commercial coffee. There simply was not that much coffee... specifically bans farmers from processing at home. But they do it anyway, often hidden from view around the back of the house.
One of the best lots I cupped in Tanzania was a single farmer, Abraham Mwashinga, a member of a FBG, but who processed coffee in buckets on his small 1 hectare farm. The entire lot was just 2 bags of parchment, and his whole output will be 3 exportable bags of Green coffee refers to the processed seed of the coffee tree fruit. Coffee is a flowering shrub that produces fruit. The seeds of the fruit are processed, roasted,.... It’s nearly impossible for an exporter, or some buyers, to deal in such small lots. But we will be importing this coffee as a distinct A term that designates not only a small volume of coffee, but a lot produced separately, discreetly picked or processed to have special character. Read the full definition!:... nonetheless.
CPU coffees are delivered as fruit direct to a central In Kenya, a "Factory" is actually a coffee wet mill (called a washing station in other parts of Africa) where the fresh cherry is brought for wet-processing. It.... By processing the coffee together, its possible to achieve better uniformity … at least in theory. Many FBG CPUs lack technical skills, good equipment, and sound advisors, so they can damage some batches of coffee or even an entire harvest by fermenting poorly or over-drying in the hot sun. But a good CPU run by trained operators can produce high quality as consistently as an estate that has more resources to direct toward their coffee production.
Don’t Be Sad About Tanzanian Coffee
There are many reasons to be optimistic that we can break these qualty barriers, and offer some beautiful coffees from Tanzania. While this article outlines in broad and biased strokes what has been wrong in the past (well, wrong for a business like ours looking for high quality, clean-tasting coffee), it seems like a good time to feel hope. Having partners who are living full-time in the coffee areas, organizing farmers, offering financial incentives and technical support, means that the message of coffee quality is circulating in the local communities.
The connection we are making with farmers via these new conduits might sound like a lot of marketing on the surface, but it’s a model that offers deliverance from business-as-usual: the farmer receives standard market level prices, leaving them nothing to invest back in the coffee plot, back in the mill, and slowly the quality drops each year. It’s a law of diminishing returns, and one in which they can’t grow the kind of coffee I am looking for, so a buyer like myself stops looking, and the chain is broken.
With the coffee we are bringing in this year, the farmer receives prompt payment for parchment coffee delivered to the warehouse at fair local price level. Then when the coffee finds a buyer who pays a premium, there is a second payment distributed to all farmers in the group. That can go toward household needs, educating the family, wherever the need is. But in the off-season there is also targeted assistance to improve the health of the coffee shrubs, improve the wet-mill, and dedicated assistance from an agronomist. This means motivated farmers, who have an increasingly better chance with each harvest of improving their yields, producing coffee that scores better in the cup, for which we will pay more … a much more positive cycle for them, and great coffee for us, now and in the future. -Thompson
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