As the container closed on coffees from the south, we turned our attention to the north, where the higher altitudes of Mt. Kilimanjaro are having an equally heavy harvest. Despite this good production, smallholder coffees from Kilimanjaro will again account for only 20% of Tanazania’s Arabica, whereas it used to be over half.
A revitalization program is underway, aimed at engaging the next generation of smallholders on Kilimanjaro, and in doing so, preserving the heirloom practices, varietals & profiles that first made Tanzania famous in coffee. The first focus was a coalition of six AMCOSs where they started distributing seedlings, training youth coffee teams, and investing in organic certification. Part of this group is one of our favorite producers in the region, Uru Shimbwe, whose coffee is now organic, and available for the first time to bring into the US.
Our principal partners in this area are members of Mwika North AMCOS. You may remember their recent project of rebuilding a Central Pulping Unit (CPU) complete with washing channels, floatation tanks, raised drying beds, and shade nets. This accomplishment allowed them to start collecting cherry for the first time over the 2020-2021 harvest. The coffee processed by CPU earned a much-deserved premium which in turn went back into the washing station.
Additional upgrades came this year, like a new paint job—complete with wall markings and logos which displays the amount of pride the group put into the project. They also tiled the tanks which makes it easier to produce clean coffees and keep them maintained. Finally, they built new staff bathrooms making all the spent at the washing station a little more pleasant (pictured below).