General Cup Profile
Tanzanian coffee, like its neighbor Kenya, produces extremely dense and highly acidic clean coffees. Tanzanian PB is a very common coffee in the United States, and this coffee is known for its Lemon/Lime acidity and excellent clarity.
Western Region - Bukova
Western Region – Kasalu (Kigoma)
1400 – 1600 masl. Some 1500 smallholders around Kasalu produce coffee. The coffee makes a journey of 1800 km to Moshi, where it’s milled and then auctioned.
Southern Region – Mbeya Region (Mbozi, Mbeya, Ileje and Rungwe District)
1200-2000 masl. The Mbeya region is the largest Arabica production region in Tanzania. Four districts form part of the region. The production of coffee is divided into three categories: smallholder home-processed, smallholder processed at central mills and estate coffee. The main variety is bourbon, which is locally known as Mbozi, and is also the name of an administrative district.
Southern Region – Mbinga
1400 -1700 masl. Small holders grow coffee that is delivered to the cooperative union MBICU. Coffee is locally known as “Ruvuma”.
Western Region – Tarime
1400 -1700 masl. Located in the northwest of the Serengeti National Park and south of the Kenyan border. The soil in the region is one of the best for coffee production in Tanzania. Coffee is Sundried. The excellent rainfall, rich soils, steep hills, and different microclimates are favorable characteristics for the production of coffee in the region. Some high altitude coffee farms also have tea production.
Northern Region – Oldeani / Ngorongoro
1400 – 1900 masl. Oldeani is located at the foot of the Oldeani Volcano. The coffee is grown on the slopes of the volcano.
Northern Region – Arusha
1100 – 1900 masl. Smallholder producers give the coffee to ACU cooperative. Coffee is grown on the slopes of the Mountain Meru. All the coffees from the Northern Estates are delivered to the Arusha Coffee Mill, where the milling is done. The mill has the capability to produce traceable coffees. It is the newest mill in the northern region.
Northern Region – Kilimanjaro Northern Region
Pare and Usambara: 900 – 1700 masl. The region encompasses the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The mountain is home to over 1 million people, many of whom depend on coffee production as their primary income. Coffee has been grown in the area for over 100 years. The cooperative KNCU gathers the coffee from smallholder producers.
Southern Region – Morogoro
Small producing region with Robusta and Arabica plantations.
Tanzanian coffees are grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, under the shade of banana trees, truly an exotic location for this east African coffee. Tanzanian coffee is somewhat similar to the coffee of its neighbor north of the border (Kenya for the geographically challenged) - bright, clean and aggressively complex. The grading process in Tanzania is also the same as in Kenya. The coffee is graded on bean size, where AA is the largest, followed by A and B down the line.
In the United States, a very popular Tanzanian coffee is the peaberry variety. Why? Well, a couple of theories about that one. Peaberries seem to have a mystique about them. What's a peaberry? It's when a single bean develops inside the coffee cherry, instead of the familiar two "flat beans". Why so many fans of the peaberry? The theory is that all the goodness of the coffee cherry is in only one bean.
Another reason for the popularity of Tanzanian peaberry is simply a factor of supply. The Japanese buy the bulk of Tanzanian flatberries (regular coffee beans) and since the peaberries have been sorted out, a market was needed for the peaberries. Since peaberries have the cult following mentioned above… voila! Exotic Tanzanian Peaberries!
Hence, with the exotic name (Tanzania) and the peaberry factor, we cup and cup to find those cups that truly deserve the praise, and are not just a function of the hype!
The Jesuits introduced mild Arabica in the 1890’s, and by 1990 coffee was seen as a commercial venture on Mount Kilimanjaro. The first variety grown was Bourbon, and later the Kent variety was introduced.
Coffee is processed either at the smallholder’s farm with a hand pulper, or in the Central Processing Units (Wet Mills) run by the estates, private companies or cooperatives. The ripe cherries are picked and taken for pulping the same day. After being washed, the coffee is stored in special fermentation tanks for 48 hours before being further washed to remove the mucilage. The drying process is done on raised drying tables. Once the coffee reaches the desired moisture level, it is transported to the dry mill.
The producer can sell his or her coffee either directly to private companies or to cooperative unions through secondary parties. These entities take care of the dry milling and exportation process.