So, you want to be an entrepreneur?

With the changing world, the ambitions of people are changing too.

 

If we go back in time, in the 80s, and ask teens about their ambitions, you’d perhaps hear these lines: “I want to be a Doctor”, “I want to be a Police Officer”, or “I want to be an Astronaut”. But what’s happening nowadays? Ambitions have changed. We no longer wish to work for others. We have realised that we are spending around 45 hours per week to make the dream of someone else come true, while compromising with our dream. No matter how much we wish to quit what we are doing right now, and start doing something we truly wish to do, we choose to stay where we are. We might go on the internet to find hundreds of motivational quotes and videos, success stories and inspiring testimonials, but we do nothing else with them, apart from getting inspired for a few minutes, hours or days.

What’s going wrong? Why does it happen this way?

Because we are afraid. But, of what? To take risks, to walk into the uncertain and to leave behind our comfort zones. The society has told us that we are trees and we cannot move, and we have accept this as our truth. We want to do work for ourselves, to be our own boss, and not to follow the rules of the corporate world, but we are not getting the right support from our nears and dears. We have great ideas but we are not able to use them to our advantage because we have been told that ideas without finance is like an empty vessel. The problem, that we are currently not seeing as a problem, is a much bigger one. It’s a cultural problem. While we will not dig into it and go straight to what must be done, we must understand that no matter how much we read about entrepreneurship, if it’s not done from the heart, it’s not worth it.

This blog post is not intended to teach the readers the way to success as an entrepreneur but the courage that we require to embark on this journey.

To become an entrepreneur, we must first of all succeed as a firm human being. We have to be sure of what we wish to pursue. Quitting a stable job with a fixed monthly income is not an easy thing to do, and it does not happen overnight. It requires a lot of thinking and preparation. For this to happen, we must be firm. We must be willing to take this step. We must feel happy about it. It must be the calling of the heart.

There’s nothing like right or wrong idea, right or wrong time, right or wrong risk, and so forth. There’s only idea, time and risk. We must brainstorm and commit to a business idea, throw yourself into the uncertain, start somewhere and test it out. The worst thing that can happen is that we might fail. What else? Failure is precious. There’s nothing to lose at the end. While millions waste their lives dreaming, thousands make it happen. The choice to either be a dreamer or a doer, is ours.

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Wisdom – where is it found?

Books? That’s the first thing that crosses our mind as we come across words like “wisdom” and “knowledge” but the reality, at least to me, is far from this. When I was still at school, I had this notion that books only are the doors to wisdom but after completing my studies from institutions made of walls and roofs, I understood that what books impart to us is knowledge, not wisdom.

So where is wisdom found?

  1. People

In my early twenties, when I began traveling the world, I met thousands of people. From the vibrant Masai people along the Great Rift Valley of Kenya to the “Pahari” (people living on mountains) people in Pahalgam, Kashmir, each one had a story to share with me and from these stories emanated morals of life. These morals formed the pillar of my character and made me the person I am today. Meeting people does not automatically guarantee the flow of wisdom. We need to connect with people at different levels, listen attentively to what they have to say, engage in deep conversation with them and see them as gurus. When someone imparts wisdom to you, he or she must be seen as a guru and a guru deserves full respect and gratitude. The problem nowadays is that people are keener to get people interested in them, than to get interested in people. In the process of feeling important, we miss what’s important really. We aren’t listening enough. We aren’t humble enough to accept wisdom from others. We are filled with ego. We do not want to appear as students; we want to be seen as gurus. We crave for glories and pride. If we do not shed off this mindset, we can never learn and if we don’t learn, we cannot never be wiser than we are today. As from today, see everyone as your guru and learn from them because everyone has a story and an advice for you.

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2. Mountains and hills

This might seem surprising or strange to you but to me, it’s my source of wisdom and inspiration. From the Uetliberg of Switzerland to the Philopappos in Greece, I have been trekking several hills and mountains. The summit is the destination and the steep of the mountain is the journey. We spend more time on the steep and lesser at the destination. The mountain is the guru. The climb teaches us to move forward in life if we want to attain the summit. Applying this in our life, if we wish to achieve our goals, we must progress step by step. Like the mountain, we must be patient, our principles must be firm and our decisions must be immovable. Mountain is a place to meditate and breathe, to put ourselves to test, to challenge ourselves and as we climb, we discover not what the mountain is but who we are. There’s a lot to learn from mountains and hills. We just need to climb, listen to what the mountain is saying, and apply the learnings in our lives.

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3. Animals

Maybe we are forgetting that we are the intruders in a world that belongs to animals; not them. Animals were here before us. They’ve known this planet before we’ve even tried to conduct scientific researches to understand what gravity is. They’ve felt the fresh breezes in the wide blue sky before we’ve even invented helicopters, planes and parachutes. They are intelligent creatures and if we consider them as our gurus, we will grow into wiser individuals. Let’s take for example, the penguins. I stood at the zoo in Zurich, with a cup of coffee, and watched this group of penguins with a conscious goal to learn something from them. They stay in group and if one of them is lagging behind while moving in a direction, they make sure not to desert him. So, I hope you will check on the animals in or around your house as from tomorrow itself. Observe them and find meaning in how they act, interact and react.

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It’s after all not so difficult to become wiser in life. Open your heart and mind to learn, be humble, see everyone and everything as a guru, listen and observe, and eventually, you will find wisdom.

Why you must slow down?

The speed at which this world is moving is beyond comparison. Everything is going so fast. Everyone is busy. No one has time. There’s a rush everywhere and for everything. But what makes the world move so fast? Because everyone is after something. Some people are chasing wealth, while others are running after pride. Some people are working tirelessly to build a house while others are saving each and every penny to invest in the education of their children. There’s one major driving force to which our small goals are tied, and that driving force is powerful enough to direct our lives.

But what do we achieve in the process of running after that major thing? For example, you might be working hard and saving money to buy a new plot of land. In this process, you often choose not to go for a cup of coffee with your school friends because for you, time is tantamount to money. You might prefer to work or do something ‘more constructive’ in this lapse of time instead of bonding with friends. What is happening at the expense of your dream? You are forgetting the value of the little things of life.

You have to slow down. Slowing down might delay your dream from coming true but it helps you remain more grounded and realistic. It helps you reflect and review your goals. It helps you accept reality as it is. It helps you become more gentle with yourself.

Slow down. There’s everyday for work. Take one day for you. Breathe and relax. You deserve this.

5 rules that you must break to be successful in life

Rules and regulations. Aren’t they embedded in every system? Let’s take for example your work life. When you joined the company where you are working currently, you were asked to sign your employment contract which contains several sections and subsections; imposing legal obligations on you and your employer. As you pursued your employment, you were asked to sign acknowledgment forms for several policies, attendance and evaluation forms, employee declaration form and so forth. As you are reading this article, you must have signed around fifteen forms so far in your current employment. But have you ever wondered what these forms are doing to you? They are bringing you gradually into a system. They are setting limits around you. They are telling you what is acceptable and what is not. They are create a system of norms for you to adhere to. While these are important for an employee to live by, you must not forget that you are a human being with ambitions and emotions. You have the power to challenge and recreate the system. If you adhere at 100% to all the rules, you can miss many opportunities. Strictly following all rules will bring dullness to your life, and will push you to become a victim of an existing system. Your dreams will be limited by the lines drawn by the system.

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In order not to compromise with your dreams and to achieve success in your life, there are 5 rules I believe one must break and here is the list:

  1. If you don’t like what you are doing, quit. You always have a choice. Always. Even by not choosing, you are choosing. For example, you are fed up of your current job and you wish to move on to pursue your own business. If you could not find the right business idea, and continue with your current job, you are choosing two things: to let go of your dream and to surrender to what you are fed up with. You are not a brick. Move. Resign. Quit. Take the risk and start somewhere.
  2. Don’t waste your time changing people. Change yourself and others will follow. Changing people is not a quick-fix. It takes a lot of time, which you must not lose. Time is valuable. The most successful people on earth spent day and night to work on their dreams. Focus on yourself. Make yourself a masterpiece. Invest in yourself. Change your habits. Review your goals. Be an example. Be inspirational. Be excellent. Be so good that your energy is enough to inspire the world. By changing yourself, others will change.
  3. Good work does not always get noticed. By telling people what you are doing, you do not become an attention-seeker, as the world might term it. You are actually placing the credit where it lies. You must tell people what you are good at, what you have achieved, are achieving and plan to achieve. The world will not know if you don’t tell them, and it’s important that you tell them because if you think farer than others, you will know that your friends today will be your stakeholders tomorrow.
  4. Change your dreams. With time, priorities and goals change. You cannot expect your dream to be the same in this ever changing world. Everything is changing. The dream you had ten years back isn’t necessarily the same today. Dreams change too. Review your goals and priorities frequently. Ask yourself these questions: (i) Is my dream relevant? Is it important to me? Will it be profitable? Will it be meaningful? Review, review and review.
  5. Give as much as you can. The elderly people will teach you the basics of saving money. Some people might even tell you that to be successful, one must expend his money wisely. Forget all this. Learn to give. It might be money, time, blessing, advice, gift and so forth. But, just give. Give with all your heart. By giving, you feel a sense of accomplishment that no other task in life can let you feel. Giving is sacred. Forget about what you will be left with and think about what will be added to the lives of others if you give.

My 5 rule are crystal-clear. I have broken them and I am experiencing success in my life. You can live that life too. Break the rules, but not the law and not those regulations that will contravene the constitution of the country.

Get started !

What’s coming up?

I have long been wondering how to revamp my website, fan page and other social networking profiles/page. Perhaps, I was too over ambitious and I set the bar too high, that is why it took me so much time to start somewhere. This morning, I decided not to dwell in perfection and to rather strive at being excellent in whatever I do. Though this notion has marked my life before too, but in the process of growing as a fine individual, juggling between work life and personal life, I might have forgotten the essence of being excellent. Better late than never. I am not writing to make any promises or to renew old promises, but rather to experiment the art of being simple in whatever I do.

For years, I wanted to bring back my website to life as it once used to be. Today I have realised why I have been failing: I have been striving to pursue perfection and in clearer words, I always wanted a blog post to contain good pictures, be written in good English and to, as far as possible, meet the reader’s expectation. I am ceasing this now. I do not want to write what the readers wish to read. I want to write what I feel I must pour out from my heart, what I have to share, what I have to give and so on. It should come from me. It’s not always about “what’s in it for them”.

So I am writing my clearest state of mind today. I want to write not only about my travels, but about my ideologies, experiences and experiments. I want to write my thoughts on a variety of subjects: from a day at the beach to good governance. I cannot assure my readers on the frequency of my blog posts but I will try to be as regular as possible.

For now, whoever is reading this, please make sure you are following me on YouTube, Facebook (Fan Page & Personal Profile), Instagram and Twitter. You can easily find me by searching for my name (Kevin Keenoo). I will soon be linking all my social media profiles for better flow of information but if you have not liked/subscribed, you might be missing what’s going on.

That’s all for today. I look forward to read from you.

Our dwindling purpose in a budding world

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When an elephant goes berserk, one would presume that the poor creature might have stumbled upon an ant unless folklore is a lie. While this article aims not to preserve the mystics of folklore, it does shed light on the so far abstruse anecdote that shall eventually lead to the demystification of our purpose on earth.

Like the elephant walking with his usual nonchalance and gazing at the landscape without bothering much about his steps, humans too are preoccupied in their own affairs and have little or no time to scan their decrepit and vulnerable surroundings in order to mitigate potential risks in their dealings, to avoid  unnecessary and stressful conundrums and to be prepared for the adversities looming around.

Muddled in the pursuance of bountiful dreams, the significance and sign of the little things have lost their value in our eyes. Like the ant, so are the little things of life. They exist around us but we are blind to them. Constant ignorance of the little things render them either nonexistent or toxic to our mind. They strive for acceptance by blooming through the thick layers of human ignorance, an outcome of our dreamful mind, but even their sudden appearances go unnoticed.

One clear example is that of a diligent student whose heart dances with the gleam of his approaching graduation ceremony but who has discarded all his copybooks by burning them to ashes in order to create space for other items on the shelves. The graduation ceremony might last for two or three hours but those copybooks contain an account of his studentship and hide the innocent scribbling of ideas.

The big dreams stir our emotions and instigate our thoughts. The big dreams inveigle us by stirring our emotions and instigating our thoughts in order to march, regardless of the fact that the little things are being forsaken, towards their fulfilment. To me, this is a tragedy because dreaming with intellectual dishonesty, or without rationality, will be tantamount to setting the bar too high. I do not ask you not to dream but dream at no cost to simplicity and humanity.

I dream but not of possessions, of liberation rather. I seek neither to own nor to control, for nothing is mine; not even my own mortal body which will be left behind upon my death. One should similarly not run after those big dreams and focus on living a mindful and free life. Freedom is as sacred as a prayer. Like dignity, it must not be given to any mortal even if it means to part ways from those mortals. You belong not to this earthly abode, but to a heavenly abode. It is time to recall where we come from, why we are here and soon, where we will have to go. Those who fail to recall and dwell in the temporariness and sins of life are those who will be deprived of a real appreciation of freedom. We must not ruin this life by inspiring ourselves from this wicked society, its customs and systems. We must endeavour to question, to be different and to be free.

The Journey to God

Neither is this a confession nor a justification; a mere expression it is.

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Like a vortex, entrenched in illusion and delusion, was this world when as a naive seeker, with knowledge meagre and mind uncertain, I felt the urge to find not just the answers to my uncertainties and doubts, but the questions too. I had this feeling that I was not asking the right questions or perhaps that the questions were not strong enough to lead to the right answers. While it is not my intention to drown you into the pool of philosophy, it is my candid wish to bring you into the mind of a teenager. Unlike profligate teenagers who have every comfort of the world, I was living on the other extreme. Like everyone, I had dreams too. To peek through the window of poverty and gaze at the horizon of success was not enough. While I could not rise beyond that horizon, my thoughts lingered far enough to understand what success was and to my dismay, how difficult it was. When I was eighteen, it all began. I had no idea at the onset that the quest I was about to embark upon would be a life-changing adventure.

In search of gold, I found God. The reader must not read ‘gold’ in its literal sense and rather delve upon its figurative significance. This word indicates, in this context, material possessions. To name but a few, gold would mean land, house, status and rank, ease and comfort, car and fame. The search was for these short-lived possessions but I ended up finding God. Though the meaning of God might be presumed to be a ‘specific’ God based on the reader’s religion but to circumvent this, God in this context refers to an energy that is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.

Those days are still vivid in my mind, when I used to walk through the bustling markets of Port-Louis, from the Royal College of Port-Louis to reach the National Library after school hours. The wide smile of the humble staffs at the reception, the undisturbed atmosphere, the smell emanating from the old books, the wooden shelves and the countless books of all sizes were enough to bring sudden solace in my heart, without searching it within me for hours. I would choose the most isolated area to sit, and load my table with religious and historical books including the sacred Quran and Bible, and accounts of colonisation eras and wars in different countries.

I learned as much as I could during those days and as I grew older, I ceased coming to the library. Though that was to my detriment, at the same time it was not because the spark was already triggered: the spark to question, the spark to find and the spark to become. On the brink of completing my tertiary studies at the University of Mauritius, I grew interested again in the different religions of the world but in the broader sense, the interest was not for religions but for a God within the religions. I turned myself into an avid reader and traveled to different places in quest of God. From the north to the south, and from the east to the west of Mauritius, I visited several temples, churches and even mosques. I visited monasteries, ashrams and meditation houses. I had long conversations with learned sages, spiritual teachers and seekers. I met like-minded people and exchanged my version of truth while listening with great enthusiasm to their version (s).

Eventually, I found no God in religion. I found all religions in God though. I found a God who has no name and no gender. I found a God who has created nothing and has not been created either. I found a God who is far from even the fifth dimension of this multiverse. I found a God who posits duties first, and not emotions. I found a God who advances purity, not lust. I found a God that refutes attachment and encourages detachment. I found a God who has created no religion. I found a God who is part of us and in whom we reside too. I found a God whose abode we can reach too and for this to happen, one has to renounce this material world and its pleasures entirely, strictly and purely. Relationships of bodies and emotions within these relationships have to be forsaken too. Renunciation should not be read in its literal sense in this context. It has a deeper figurative meaning. To renounce is to forsake the relationship with the people and objects, and not the objects and people themselves. One evident example is that of an IT savvy who is so attached to his IPhone. He needs not throw away his IPhone until it is not at his detriment. He can however set his rules and principles clear around the usage of his IPhone but by doing so, one must not be personally motivated with the view to twist the reality in such a way that we pretend to be renouncing but in fact, we are not. By so doing, we fool no else. The practice of renunciation is the sacred of all practices of a spiritual being. It teaches non-dependence on people and objects and fosters the spirit of detachment. It liberates oneself from all sufferings of the world. It lights up the candle of pure bliss in our hearts. Renunciation, from the little to the biggest things in our life, without being untrue in the process brings one closer to God.

I now rest my pen with this popular last idea which shall serve as food for thought for you: We come empty handed and we leave empty handed.

 

Istanbul never lies

Six hours. This is the duration of the flight from Kigali International Airport, Rwanda, to Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Turkey. It all came as a surprise to me that I have to transit via Istanbul to reach my final destination: Mauritius. As an adventurous young man, the surprise was a pleasant one. While Turkish Airlines managed to impress me with the assorted and mouthwatering food they had to offer on board, I was absolutely mesmerized, minutes before landing, by the topography of Istanbul. The plane dived freely into the air space of Asia and Europe, and this was a scene worth dying for. I saw myriads of small boats sailing in the lap of Eurasia’s sea, and gigantic bridges connecting cities. I grew absorbed into my thoughts, nodding to the doleful fact that humans do not create only bridges and boats, but borders too.

Prior to exiting the airport, I made sure to convert some dollars to the local currency of Turkey: the Turkish Lira. As I exited the big and busy airport, I saw many taxis around but I was recommended by one airport officials, to only choose the yellow taxis as they are supposedly the most trustworthy ones. He was right. The driver was humble and respectful, and the taxi had legit meters.

I entered Istanbul carrying many questions in my eyes and the answers were contained in the unplanned meetings with strangers, in the sacred and breathtaking mosques, in the delicious local food, in the serene gardens and in the spirit of Istanbul. The modern infrastructure and exquisite architecture render the city vivid, colorful and contrasting.

I checked in at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel, located in Bağcılar, which is around twenty minutes’ drive from the airport. The hotel was comfy, imposing in appearance and affordable.

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After a hot shower, I headed to Bosphorus: a calm and posh area. It took me around thirty minutes from Bağcılar to Bosphorus by car.  I walked for hours on the streets of Bosphorus: clicking pictures and meeting the locals. I checked in at one of the popular restaurants, called The Market, to have a delicious cup of Turkish coffee. It was love at first sip.  

Sultanahmet, a historical district of Istanbul, was glorious and unique. I felt the divine call of its mosques and decided to travel there the next day. Bosphorus and Sultanahmet are separated by the sea. Many passenger boats were sailing back and forth from Bosphorus to Sultanahmet.

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Istanbul welcomed me with smiles and coffee. I spent the first day to understand the culture of the place: from the greeting etiquettes to food habits. I reached the hotel in the evening and penned down the moments of the first day in my travel diary. One important lesson that I learned on this first day in Istanbul is that Istanbul never lies. It speaks of faith but it brings you to its doors too: the mosques. It takes pride in its local food and it offers you umpteen restaurants and cafes.

It is as it is.

It is an open book for travelers to read.

 

Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

Until we open our eyes more to a country’s glories and blind ourselves to its scars, I’m of the view that the art of traveling is nothing else but just a lifeless bucket-list.

I have seen some new mornings in the past couple of months; mornings that are made up of chirping birds, dancing waves of untouched lakes, magma sparks, cold cities, lush green wilderness, endless road trips and unending discoveries. It’s been almost three months that I have packed my luggage with travel diaries, cameras and photographic equipment, traveler’s shoes and outfits and left home to travel the depths and breadths of Africa.

In these three months, I have crossed the Republic of Rwanda, from Kigali to Gisenyi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, from Goma to Kinshasa. One of the places that has moved me is the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, located in the heart of Kigali.

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Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre

I shed teas as I walked inside the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. While traveling into the Rwanda, the posh green forests, the soulful landscapes and the smiles that people wear on their faces would make it impossible to even think that this country has underwent a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi by the members of the Hutu.

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Over 800, 000 Rwandans were killed in less than one year and over 2, 000, 000 were displaced.

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The political leadership of the Honorable Paul Kagame has significantly ended this genocide, when his party took control of the country.  Beside the political will to bring these human tragedies to an end, the Rwandans have demonstrated great strength and faith.

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The country, in the process of rebuilding itself, has come a long way and the rise of Rwanda will continue for their scars are now their reference points that remind them to pursue the construction of a new Rwanda.

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Make coffee, not war

Moshi is the smallest municipality in the Kilimanjaro Region and it is principally inhabited by the Chagga and Pare ethnic groups. This part of the world is still untouched by technology and prides itself for conserving its biodiversity. I was drawn by the solace of nature, the slow pace of life of the place, the peaceful cohabitation between human and animals and the aromatic scent of ground coffee escaping from the countless coffee processing plants.

I had the immense privilege to visit an organic coffee processing plant – Arisi Coffee. Lying in the heart of an undisturbed forest, Arisi Coffee is a small and eco-friendly coffee processing plant run by the locals who hold the candid interest of promoting their local coffee to the world through tourism.

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The people who worked there were full of life. Their cheerful faces showed how much they were in love with their jobs. The lush green surroundings were to die for and the fresh oxygen of the place made me feel even more alive.

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I walked in with an open mind to learn the coffee-making steps – from freshly plucked coffee beans to a hot cup of black coffee.  I was told that the coffee is grown in the volcanic soil around the Kilimanjaro region and as such, the resulting cup of coffee is always incredibly delicious. After harvesting the cherries, the coffee beans are sun-dried.

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Step 1: Harvesting the cherries and sun-drying the beans

The dried beans are then inserted in a wooden pulping machine to roughly separate the parchment layer (endocarp) from the beans. A second round of sorting is then manually performed for a finer result.

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Step 2: The dried beans are crushed to separate the beans from the parchment layer (endocarp).

The beans are inserted in a big wooden mortar and are crushed. While crushing the coffee beans, the persons there clap loudly and sing melodiously until the process is completed. I was told that good music uplifts the soul and fills the body with energy to crush the beans, which is a laborious process. I participated in the process too as, beside learning, I knew I was preparing my own good cup of coffee.

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Step 3: The beans are crushed until they turn into the size of black pepper.

The coffee beans are placed in a recipient over fire and stirred around for a couple of minutes until they turn dark roasted.

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Step 4: The coffee beans are then roasted for some minutes

The scent of the roasted coffee beans proved to be addictive as it dispersed into the air.

One of the fellows explained to me the lightness or darkness of the roasted coffee beans describes the degree and duration of the roasting. The color of the roasted coffee beans also determines, to some extent, the level of caffeine present in them. I smiled when I saw the roasted beans being taken out of the recipient as they turned quite dark; meaning that the coffee would be irresistibly strong.

The coffee beans is then ground thoroughly in the wooden mortar until they turn into powder. As usual, this process was accompanied by some uplifting music.

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Step 5: The beans are crushed into powder

The powder is then filtered for a finer result. I was told that some coffee lovers do prefer the rough coffee powder but to prepare their coffee with it, they have to boil it a little longer compared to the finer powder.

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Step 6: The powder is then filtered for a finer result

Finally, after these six steps, the coffee was made and it was the best coffee I ever tasted so far. In Moshi, we believe in one thing: “Make coffee, not war

If you have decided to explore the lengths and breadths of Tanzania one day, you should certainly not miss one good cup of coffee at Arisi Coffee, in Moshi.