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