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Kilimanjaro Reaches New Heights

We’ve enjoyed working with Mwika North AMCOS for the past four years. Great coffee and great leadership with slow and steady progress on selection, drying, logistics, timing, and financing. It’s been step by step towards a better cup.

Until now.

When we visited in January we saw what was once a parchment collection center convert into a fully functioning Central Processing Unit (CPU). This is a washing station, one that now allows the cooperative to collect cherry from members, pay immediately, and control processing from the moment the harvested cherries arrive through to the perfectly dried parchment.

In June the group voted to take out 40million Tanzania Shilling (~17,400USD) loan to invest in specialty. They installed fencing, poured concrete for washing channels, dug out water reclamation reservoirs, built drying beds (complete with shade netting), established a cherry sorting station, and even had time to put in a shaded nursery.

All of this was completed – along with training- in time to process 3 weeks worth of cherry collection. This served as more test-run and proof of concept that can be scaled up next year. Their efforts also showed up on the table, CPU processed coffees cupped at least a point higher over their best home processed lots (improved sugars, florals, and balance).

Josephine Kawiche, assistant secretary at Mwika North

Momrosso Josephine, pictured above is the CPU manager. She oversaw 3,000kg of parchment through the washing station. It was a short season, so next year she expects 10,000kg+ with a few more drying beds.

While Mwika’s leadership did the heavy leading, and their management did the heavy lifting. Furthermore, this would not have been possible without help from exporter Taylor Winch Tanzania (JJ, left), training from nonprofit Solidad, and 4 years of committed buyer support from Ohio-based roaster Deeper Roots (Adam, right). Chairman Saimon stands proudly at center.

The biggest costs come in the smallest packages. Hooking up to the electric grid saves the group a handful of shillings over using diesel, which over time can accrue into significant savings.

Premiums are paid on coffees processed through this CPU, part of which goes to pay back this four-year loan. Cherry collections only ran for a few weeks as CPU staff was getting going, but better prices are expected to attract more deliveries next season. The plan now is to be prepared for larger volumes.

power source for the CPU

The Mwika North General Assembly meeting is in June. Before that meeting, they will be tiling and painting the station, adding drying capacity, and moving the nursery off-site to a parchment collection center, where they can also build out a demonstration plot.

Additional plans include forming a committee to oversee quality at the CPU and to tap into programs that train ‘youth teams’ to provide general garden services to their neighbors.

In short, they seem motivated and moving in the right direction. Their Home Processed Coffee is coming in this Spring. PSS scored a melon sweet and tangy spicy 85.