A few weeks ago, we featured a post about our Rwandan blend. This week we are featuring our Tanzanian single origin roasted coffee for our house brew. As covered in What Are Coffee Waves, third wave involves becoming more interested in the taste, process, origin and particulars about the coffee bean. Read on to find out more about the Tanzanian bean we are roasting at Beans & Butter Coffeehouse.
How Important Is Coffee to the Tanzanian Economy?
Coffee has been grown in Tanzania since the 16th century. Coffee beans were brought over from the French island known as Reunion (formerly called Bourbon). However, coffee’s popularity didn’t happen until around 200 years later when German missionaries arrived in the area.
From the 1800s until today, coffee has been an important export in Tanzania. Coffee is the largest exported crop from Tanzania. Other industries such as tourism and mining have become more lucrative to the overall Tanzanian economy. Even with the significance of the crop to Tanzania, coffee production trails behind Ethiopian, Uganda and Cote d’Ivoire in Africa. Tanzanian coffee equals only 0.7 percent of the world coffee trade.
What Is Happening with Tanzanian Coffee Production?
Tanzania’s coffee peak of production began dropping in the late 1990s due to coffee wilt disease which arrived in 1997. This fungal disease kills the entire coffee plant. Other issues affecting production are various environmental factors, declining yield from older coffee plants, and low farm gate prices.
Also a problem is the age of the actual farmers. The average age of a coffee farmer is 55 in Tanzania. Younger people tend to migrate to cities, as is the case in much of the world. Due to the patriarchal society and inheritance laws in Tanzania, women are unable to inherit property from their parents. Although they can inherit from their husbands, these laws are a barrier to young women entering this industry.
What Kind of Beans Are Grown in Tanzania?
Both arabica and robusta beans are grown in Tanzania, with over 90% of the coffee exported outside of Tanzania. Arabica beans comprise 70% of the beans grown, which are chiefly Bourbon and Kent varietals. The robusta beans are grown up by Lake Victoria. Arabica grows in two distinct regions, the mountainous northern zone and the rainy southern zone of Tanzania. The beans between these two areas have remarkably different flavor profiles.
Peaberry beans grow along the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the north at elevations from 4500 to 6000 feet. The Peaberry rounded shape allows for a more even roast than a flat bean. Peaberry coffee is thought to be a superior coffee due to its meticulous sorting process. Peaberry is the roast we currently have for sale at Beans & Butter as whole beans. Depending upon when you come in, it may also be our house brew of the day.
What Kind of Farms Grow Tanzanian Coffee?
Interestingly, small holder farms grow approximately 95 of Tanzanian coffee beans on plots from 50 to 100 acres. Large estates, numbering around 110, account for the rest of the coffee. Time of harvest depends upon region. While Northern and southern regions harvest from July to December, the western farms harvest anywhere from May to October.
Small holder farms organize into agricultural marketing cooperative societies (AMCOS). In 2018, new laws were enacted regarding coffee trading. The cooperatives represent the farmers at auctions selling mainly green coffee.
What Does the Beans and Butter Tanzanian Roast Taste Like?
We tried Michael Simmons’s Beans and Butter medium roasted Tanzanian Peaberry beans, and this is what we found:
- Medium roast with a bold, chocolate aroma
- Intense flavor notes of rich Dutch cocoa and caramel
- Dark fruitiness, suggestive of dried currants or plums
- Hints of citrus fruits
- Astringent mouthfeel
Serve it hot or iced, Beans & Butter’s Tanzanian Peaberry beans are delicious. Come by soon and try out this complex roast.
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