As Singapore hosts our inaugural coffee festival, we also took the opportunity to do a little first on our end with our first foray into roasting coffees from Tanzania. This new coffee is processed in a washing station in the Ilomba village in the Mbeya region of Tanzania. The coffees come from a group of smallholder coffee farmers of the Ilomba Best Coffee Group. The group was initially formed in the 2000s under Kilicafe (Technoserve) with the aim of improving coffee production and marketing. After years of working under the patronage of Technoserve, the group managed to produce 40 metric tones (MT) of coffee in 2012. However, in the same year, Technoserve ended the program to support the group. As such, the production fell from a 40 MT to only 4 MT the following season. This was mainly due to lack of operating capital as the group could not be trusted by financiers after the departure of Technoserve. In 2013, the group entered into business relationship with Tembo Coffee Company, which assisted the renovation of the washing station as well as providing agro-inputs. After the recovery in 2014/15 season, the group produced more than 20 MT of CPU coffee up from the 4 MT the previous year.
Currently, the group has 24 members. They also provide benefits to other farmers who are not members of the group through the use of the group’s facilities to improve the quality of the coffee their neighbors produce. The group expects growth in both farmer membership number and increased quality coffee tonnage. The group produces high quality coffee due to the area’s high altitude. The harvest is delayed compared to other parts if the same region. This increases the quality and size of the bean.
We were pretty excited roasting this Tanzanian coffee as we had fond recollection of how pleasantly it cupped when we first received the sample. The cup has distinct citric notes when hot which then transforms to peaches, berries and blackcurrants as it cools. Lovely floral undertones with a tea-like texture and a calming honey-like sweetness.
Wet Mill: Ilomba Factory
Producer: Illomba Best Coffee Group
Region: Mbozi district, Mbeya, Tanzania
Varietal: Bourbon (Grade AA)
Altitude: 1850-1900 m asl
Processing: Cherries are separated and sorted for unripes and overripes before they go in to production. A eco-pulper removes the skin and pulp and the coffee is soaked overnight for 12 hours. The coffee is then graded into 3 grades, A, B and C. The drying is done on African drying beds for up to 20 days. Coffees are covered in plastic during midday and at night, and in case of rain.
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