Monday, August 6
Outside the city of Arusha is very poor with small shanties as homes, clearly with no running water and built directly on dirt grounds in some cases. Within the city, though more established, still appears to be less than anything moderately acceptable to anyone I know. There are continuous lines of run down strip malls. I can’t imagine buying or eating anything from any of them.
Believe it or not African time is officially slower, longer and even more complicated than Italian time! My good graces – we waited 5 hours for a 45 minute coffee plantation tour. After waiting for an hour our guide suggested we go to the souvenir market down the road. Say no more- I’m there! If only I had more than a duffel. That damn duffel- it’s ruining all my fun! Lol We stay there for a little while then go back to the Arusha Coffee Lodge and have a great lunch. What is African food you ask? There are a lot of fresh vegetable options and stir fry, (which I personally love) as well as a variety of beef, dark meat chicken and perch. The food is not spectacular here but it’s healthy, fresh and decent. Spices like coconut and curry are common flavors.
After lunch we are informed our tour will be yet another hour away. We are trying to be gracious but at this point it’s slightly (ok way more than slightly) ridiculous that we arrived at this place at 9:30 am and at 2:00 pm still haven’t had a tour! We ask if we could do something else In the meantime and as our French cousins say, “wa-la” we go quadding!
All is fine and with quadding except Stefano drives like a grandpa and Luca smashes into a coffee tree. Luckily he’s more embarrassed than hurt. We dry dusty, dirty tears and we complete our adventure!
ALAS! Neema meets us on our walk back and informs us she will take us on our coffee tour! Cool beans! (Pun totally intended.)
What’d we learn?
- All of their beans are handpicked, often by locals who come to the fence and ask if they can pick for the high season. It’s a great part-time job paying on productivity (amen to that system) and helpful for mothers who can also bring their babies and young children with them.
- Handpicking ensures only the best beans go to roasting production as opposed to systems in Brazil where they shake the tree and all the beans (ripe or not) fall to the ground. This process of hand picking is therefore more expensive.
- These beans are grown in high elevations and volcanic soil and produce quality Arabica coffee. Ironically they sell the majority of their beans to Starbucks who Neema told us makes terrible coffee!
- A new tree takes 5 years to grow
- 2 million trees are grown on this plantation
- Robusta is a high caffeine bean usually used for instant coffee like a Nescafé
- The darker the bean the more it is roasted and the less caffeine it has, hence why espresso has less caffeine than regular coffee!
- Also, when you use a coffee filter as we do with American coffee you actually seep up the coffee’s natural oils leaving the coffee more bitter than an Italian Moka or French Press machine!
Tomorrow we drive two hours to Tarangire Treetop Lodge and have our first game drive. 🐆🦌🦏🐘
Read more about my African adventures here.