“Distinct and Unique African Coffee: Tanzania- The coffee world in Mount Kilimanjaro”

What could you first think of when we discuss the coffee from countries in Africa? Would it be Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee? Or Kenya, well known by its acidity of coffee? Maybe Rwanda? Her coffee is famous because of the fruity and floral aroma. In this article, I am not going to discuss those excellent coffee origins. Instead, I would like to introduce an origin who produces the distinct and unique coffee: Tanzania.

Mount Kilimanjaro and her coffee

Tanzania is a typical East African country. Kenya and Uganda are on her north side; Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia are on the south side; West part of her would be Rwanda and Burundi. We cannot miss the coffee from Mount Kilimanjaro if we are talking about coffee from Tanzania. She is located in the north part of Tanzania and she is the highest mountain in Africa. Back to 1893, Bourbon (a kind of coffee variety) was introduced to Mount Kilimanjaro region for coffee production. Extreme and diverse weather condition is a treasure for coffee production undoubtedly. Nowadays, she is the best representative and the majority of Tanzanian coffee, which 75% of the coffee regions in Tanzania are in Kilimanjaro.

Maybe you could have a question in your head: What is the advantage and premium growth condition in Kilimanjaro? The answer is: Mount Kilimanjaro is not only the highest mountain in Africa, she is also a volcanic mountain, which is the second biggest volcanic crater in the world. For those who have read the blog article in Coffee Roasters Asia, or who are interested in coffee production, you would probably know there is huge amount of nutrition in the volcanic soil which is a precious thing for coffee production. For the volcanic soil in Mount Kilimanjaro, it is subacidity and good to drain off water. There is no doubt that it provides a good term for coffee in Kilimanjaro to growth.

Moreover, climate is another premium condition for Kilimanjaro coffee. We may always think that Africa is a continent with super hot temperature and very low humidity in the whole time. Nonetheless, I could tell you this is a big misunderstanding on Africa’s weather. Let’s take Kilimanjaro as an example, the field of mountain can reach 59 degree Celsius, while the Peak could always cover by snow and reach subzero 34 degree Celsius. Therefore, Mount Kilimanjaro has another name called 「赤道雪峰」in Chinese. For the volume of rainfall, the area in river valley could have 800-900mm per year; while the field of mountain could reach 1600-1800mm per year. Thus, you could imagine how well the coffee beans could grow in these premium environment.

Peaberry VS Flat beans

Peaberry in Tanzania could definitely be a highlight of its coffee production. You may ask: What is peaberry? What is flat bean? What is their difference? Here we may need to make some introduction of it.

First of all, coffee bean is actually a drupe of a coffee cherry. It is a plant, a kind of seed. Generally speaking, coffee beans grow 1 pair in each coffee cherry, that is 2 coffee beans. We would call it “flat beans” as an academic term.

Flat beans


However, peaberry is a kind of natural mutation of the coffee bean inside the coffee cherry. Peaberry is also called “caracol” or “snail” in Spanish. In phytology, there may have 2 reasons why peaberry appear: 1. Unevenly pollination 2 Unevenly growth. In the growing process, the beans do not separate into two, instead there is only one round bean, the peaberry. Is it always happen? Normally, the volume of peaberry production is 1/50 to that of the flat beans. In other African countries like Kenya, they will have peaberry as well. But in Tanzania, we could only find 5-10% of coffee beans that belong to Peaberry. Moreover, since the size of the peaberry is smaller than that of flat beans, peaberry would be separated and sold independently. To be Honest, it is quite rare and precious.

There are many people arguing the flavour of peaberry and that of flat bean. Which one is more delicious? Indeed, there is still no conclusion. On the one hand, peaberry is a defect in the growth of coffee cherry; on the other hand, someone points out that if all the nutrition goes to a smaller bean instead of two flat beans, the peaberry would have more flavour and delicious note. It’s not easy to say that one is better than the other one. As a coffee lover, I would recommend you to enjoy each of the good coffee, no matter it is peaberry or flat bean.

Tasting profile of Tanzanian coffee: North Kilimanjaro Peaberry

To be frank, It is not very common to see Tanzanian coffee in Hong Kong coffee Industry when we compare with other Asian countries like Japan or South Korea. I guess you must have tried the African coffee, maybe a cup of Kenyan or a cup of Ethiopian. My friends are quite surprised when they know Tanzania would produce coffee. So how can we describe the flavour of Tanzanian coffee?

Let’s take the latest single origin coffee of Coffee Roasters Asia as an example: Tanzania Peaberry FAQ North Kilimanjaro (https://www.coffeeroasters.com.hk/?product=tanzania-peaberry-faq-north-kilimanjaro). Indeed, the acidity of this coffee is not as bright as Kenyan coffee, the floral aroma is not as obvious as Ethiopian coffee. However, her acidity is gentle and smooth, like a glass of wine, sweet and elegant. If we roast it with a light medium level, the plum and citric aroma is fresh and obvious. we can taste the sweetness of cane sugar and guava. According to the change in temperature, the flavour of it would change as well. If we roast it in a dark level, there would be a round mouthfeel: the clean sweetness of fresh fig, the full and round caramel sweetness. This is a coffee with distinct and attractive character.

Have you tried Tanzanian coffee? It the answer is no, why don’t you try this as a start? It’s time to discover the world of Tanzanian coffee.:)

Photo Credit:
  1. https://visualhunt.com/d/d.php?f=https%3A%2F%2Ffarm8.staticflickr.com%2F7665%2F27557840500_db0351ab56_b.jpg&s=d94322a5459ed151223546fda7c1f715,
  2. https://s-i.huffpost.com/gen/1778526/images/o-MT-KILIMANJARO-facebook.jpg, https://s-i.huffpost.com/gen/1778526/images/o-MT-KILIMANJARO-facebook.jpg
  3. https://www.rabobank.com/en/images/groeneblaadjes.jpg, https://www.rabobank.com/en/images/groeneblaadjes.jpg
  4. https://www.rei.com/adventures/assets/adventures/images/trip/core/africa/kil_hero, https://www.rei.com/adventures/assets/adventures/images/trip/core/africa/kil_hero
  5. https://visualhunt.com/d/d.php?f=https%3A%2F%2Ffarm4.staticflickr.com%2F3514%2F4058877933_642cd5a80e_o.jpg&s=f699f2c41c88fc2176ed16be4dddb02b,
  6. http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/image/view/-/1943154/medRes/549181/-/ggx42uz/-/DN+NYERI+COFFEE+1411+A+px.jpg, http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/image/view/-/1943154/medRes/549181/-/ggx42uz/-/DN+NYERI+COFFEE+1411+A+px.jpg