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Tanzania Harvest Update 2022

Progress Tastes Good

From the south to the north, Tanzania coffees are on the rise, and on their way to the US.

Tanzania’s coffee harvest starts in the south, where farms in Mbeya and Songwe bloom months before they do in the north around Mt. Kilimanjaro and Arusha. This year the seasons bled into one another, both benefitting from a heavy harvest in a high market. Read on to hear what producer partners old and new are doing with their recently rekindled interest in specialty.

Harvest in the South

The harvest has wrapped up Southern Tanzania (Mbeya and Songwe districts), with a container already on the water with an early February ETA.

This year, the news in Iyenga (Songwe) was all about prices. The increases seem to validate the group’s investment in quality, for example, the recent purchase of a new Penagos pulper. This was their first harvest using it, and the washing station manager could not have been happier. Nor could we—their coffee was more vibrant than before.

In Mwalyego (Mbeya), life is good. Leadership remains popular and steady. Members describe their group as well organized and in a good position to make the most of the opportunities that come their way. The result is another solid crop with each lot earning double distinction on sweetness (e.g., brown sugar and melon).

You’ll be hearing about two new producer groups and their coffees taste as good as they sound. The first is Shimilangwada Estate, from Songwe in the South. This group has been known for years on our QC cupping table. It’s a young estate dedicated to using cutting-edge coffee seedlings. We secured a small PB lot this time but will work towards more in the years to come. The second new name is Shishton Mill, from the Arusha region in the North. They have been punching up the traditional Tanzanian profile with a more semi-washed process. We have an excellent AA from them this year, and are hoping to add on one of their larger AB lot as well.

Timing

Peak Harvest On the Water Shipments / Arrivals
Nov – Dec

Dec – Jan

Feb – Mar

Offers

Iyenga

A partner since 2017, this group of 193 members is on a roll, winning awards at the country’s Taste of Harvest Competition every year since 2019.

Iyenga AB | 86.5 pts | Honey, lemon, passionfruit, chocolate, flan, yogurt

Iyenga PB | 87.25 pts | Dried pineapple, honey, floral, plum raisin, cocoa, brown sugar

Mwalyego

With 8 years under our belt, Mwalyego is our longest-standing partnership in Tanzania. The group led the way in respect to quality and premium payments. We have enjoyed watching this group scale as it maintains high-scoring lots year over year.

Mwalyego PB | 85.25 pts | Orange bitters, black tea with lemon, melon, brown sugar, malt cocoa

Shimilangwada

This will be our first year purchasing coffee from the young estate, but we have been watching this group for several years. We’re excited at the beginning of a this new partnership in Southern Tanzania.

Shimilangwada PB | 86 pts. | Brown sugar, lemon-limeade, caipirinha, caramel

HOW TO BOOK

Southern Tanzania bookings are complete and slated to arrive in mid-February. Keep an eye on our Forward Offers for arrival updates! Reach out to your trader if you’d like to reserve bags now based on our PSS cupping results (above).

coffee trees at mwalyego

Mwalyego drying beds

Harvest in the North

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).

Progress was such that the leadership spent a lot of time hosting other groups from around the country. In December, a program sponsored by the International Trade Center called MARKUP brought 24 groups for a 4-day on-site workshop on washing station management.

The previous chairman who led the group through these investments has retired to become a member of the board, and a new chairperson is in the process of being elected. Their focus, and ours as well, for 2022 will be investing in the next generation of Mwika North which includes plans for youth engagement and a seedling nursery to refresh the fields.

Timing

Peak Harvest On the Water Shipments / Arrivals
Jan – Feb

March

April – May

The Mwika North leadership group inspects red cherry during a regular training.

Offers

Mwika North AMCOS

Up north on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mwika North has been leading the region in specialty production for over 10 years. Our partnership with them began in 2015 and we have only improved with one another each and every year.

PB Mwika North HP | 86.25 pts. | Dry lemon, grapefruit, honeysuckle

AB Mwika North HP | 86 pts. | Black tea, chocolate on the break, melon, lemon

AA Mwika North HP | 85.25 pts. | Lemon, melon, honey

Shishton

This will be our first year purchasing coffee from this promising AMCOS, but we like what we’re seeing so far.

Shishton AA | 86.5 pts. | Cola, dark honey, plum, lime, juicy and complex.

Uru Shimbwe AMCOS

Uru Shimbwe has long been on our list of preferred suppliers. Each year their coffees trade positions as #1 or #2 with our partners at Mwika North (right next door), and they truly do represent a last stand for smallholder specialty in the area.

Uru Shimbwe Organic | 85 pts. | Floral, sweet, green apple, caramel

HOW TO BOOK

The Northern Tanzania booking season is just over halfway through. We’ve approved a mixed container from groups above like Mwika North, but are looking to add on later harvest organics from Uru Shimbwe and other members of a ‘Kilimanjaro Revival Project’. These will hit our Forward Offers menu by mid-February, and arrive in the US by May/June. If you’d like to learn more, or reserve a lot SAS NANS, get in touch with a trader to discuss availability and anticipated qualities/profiles.

– The Crop to Cup Sourcing Team