Kawaha Shamba: A Tour for Coffee Devotes

Coffee is the lifeline to a good day.” –Me

Coffee, Java, Black Gold, Kahawa in Swahili, whatever you call it, my days start with two things: coffee and a trip to the gym. Take away the second and I’m grumpy. Take away the first and I am not fit for human company. It’s gotten to the point where I travel with a stash of acceptable coffee in case I’m someplace (gasp!) that does not serve coffee. (There is a certain irony to this. While I survive on coffee, I cannot actually make my own cup of coffee. Seriously, but that’s another story for another day). Thankfully this wasn’t an issue in Tanzania.

Following bananas, coffee is Tanzania’s second biggest cash crop, and it’s readily available. Granted, you won’t find Starbucks at every corner but coffee is at all hotels and restaurants. Curiously, coffee at the hotels is instant. Outside of coffee at hotels, there are coffee shops or cafe’s, such as Union Cafe, popping up for residents, ex-Pats and travelers.

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AfricaFe, the instant coffee that is prevalent at Tanzanian hotels. It’s a bit like Goldilocks. One scoop is not strong enough, two scoops is too strong but a scoop and half is just about right!

But there’s more to Union Cafe than welcoming travelers and locals. It’s part of the Kilimanjaro Native Co-Operative Union. This is Africa’s oldest co-op and represents more than 60,000 farmers around Kilimanjaro.

The co-op’s main focus is helping more than 800 farmers secure a fair price, of 2500/Tsch per kg, for their coffee beans at auction. Before picking season, the co-op offers workshops to help farmers provide the best quality beans. It’s these beans that generate the best price. And the best price can be traced back to how someone picks, washes and dry’s their coffee beans.

For curious coffee drinkers, you can visit part of the co-op called Kahawa Shamba, for a tour. A visit lasts about 90 minutes. During the time you will learn boatloads about coffee: how it’s harvested, how to pick the beans, how to wash them, how to roast and grind them, and how to brew a cup of coffee. Following the tour, guests are treated to a traditional Tanzania lunch.

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Going old school: grinding our coffee beans on the Kahawa Shamba Coffee Tour.

If you liked the coffee, I highly recommend buying a bag of beans. They are fantastic and the coffee makes a thoughtful gift. You can purchase these at the co-op or Union Cafe. And, here’s some expert advice from Epicurious about how to store your coffee so it stays fresh long after you are home.

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Have you ever roasted coffee beans on an open fire? Me, neither. The smell was heavenly.

Coffee To Go

Two weeks ago i read a post from MizFit that both inspired me and made me want to sit down write. If you’ve never met MizFit, you should. She is someone i adore and want to be. From a fitness/healthy living/weight standpoint, she is honest about what works for her and just rolls with things. Now, this might not be how she feels about life but that’s how she comes across to me. I also admire her because when you engage with her via Social Media, she responds. Not everyone does that so i find it especially meaningful that she does. But i digress.

I feel like life has beaten the life out of me lately. When i read this post i immediately loved the sentiment behind sitting down and having coffee. Or, putting some thoughts on paper. As a “thinker” this also helps me relieve stress. While i adore Carla and leap at any opportunity to chat with her, on some level, i think my brain also recognized this as a much-needed way to keep my sanity.

Without further ado… If we had coffee, i would tell you i’m overwhelmed but trying not to admit it. I really, really love my job but the past four weeks have been travel all the time. It’s taken a toll on me. But i feel overwhelmed mostly because all this travel resulted in me letting my nieces down. They were supposed to visit in early June and because of work i dropped the ball on making arrangements. The thing about kids is that they still love you and move on. But i know i messed up and i feel really, really bad.

I’ve started reading again and i’d like to tell you about this amazing book i finished. I didn’t figure out “who done it” until much later than my friends but that doesn’t make me a bad person does it? Now, i’m sad because the follow-up book isn’t quite as good. I’d like to know what you are reading. I want, i need, more good book recommendations.

If you pushed me enough, i would admit that i’m worried about money. All the time. I can’t help it. Do you ever get to a point where you feel you have enough and save enough? My worries are compounded right now because our AC unit is having some “issues.” It’s possible we are looking at having to buy a brand new unit. And we still need a new computer. And my suitcase broke on my last work trip. What’s that phrase? When it rains it pours…

I’d like to tell you that on my next work trip to Phoenix, i want to stay an extra day to see the Grand Canyon. Even though it might be in July, it will be so cool. Won’t it? Hot, yes. Cool, yes?

I’d like to ask you about strollers. You see, i’m going to be an Aunt again (6x Auntie!!) and promised to get my brother a double stroller. They want a Bob’s. I think Phil and Ted’s is more practical. Does it matter? What is really the best stroller, what do you like and why?

And of course, i would tell you that in 21 days i am off on the 180 mile Trek Across Maine with my Dad. I don’t think i’ve ever seen him this excited about something. At least something we are doing together. He has started calling every day to ask how my training is going. I know his heart is in the right place but it’s getting redundant. Not to mention stressful.

I must tell you i’m sorry for monopolizing the conversation. How was Disneyland? I promise to be a better listener when met again for coffee and you tell me what’s on your mind.