Machare Estate, Kilimanjaro. Starting off in the Kilimanjaro region, we were welcomed with unusual sunshine for these times. Machare Estate allows you to have a cup of coffee with a direct view onto Kilimanjaro. The farm is surrounded by two rivers and nestled on the lush slopes of the Kilimanjaro Mountain. Bente, the owner of Machare, aims to cultivate 100 % organically certified coffee in a few years. She has quite some talent to teach herself things that go beyond her in-depth knowledge of coffee: an irrigation system that supplies the whole plantation with only one pump and a Tanzanian-tailored organic fertilizer are only two of the projects she successfully executed in the past years. Imagine a farm that has experimented with so many best practices from all over the world, that it is considered state-of-the-art coffee processing in East Africa. This results not only in a unique set-up involving much of the surrounding communities but also in a high-quality cup that constantly convinces with beautiful aromas and high complexity. Machare's coffees are full of tomato, bergamot and berries that play with smooth citric acidity. We have had these coffees for several years now and can only support her engagement that reflects these colorful aromas in one cup.
During our visit in August, parts of the Machare Estate had ripened much earlier than in previous years. Picking in lower altitudes had already begun. Not only on Machare, but also on the many surrounding smallholder farms, people had started to pick the first ripe cherries. Samples should come to our lab in November, first coffees should reach our warehouse in Germany by March.
Last year, we entered a joint project to strengthen Machare's surrounding communities. To us, a strong coffee community with established infrastructure enables synergies as well as stable supply from the region. The goal of the project was to imrpove coffee processing for Machare's neighboring Central Pulping Units (CPU's). These CPU's are owned and operated by the surrounding smallholder farmers to depulp, ferment, wash and dry the parchment of many in one facility. Together with Bente, we decided to supply the CPU's with shade nets and plastic canvas to support their drying processes on African drying beds. Originally, shade nets were used in olive processing, covering the olives and drying them in a more gentile way. Farmers at the Kilimanjaro already dry their parchment in the shade of many trees. Nevertheless, these nets still come in handy. Drying the parchment involves regular turning to ensure constant quality. Placing the parchment on nets rather than directly on wire has several advantages:
The wire is hard to replace or repair as the material is rising in price
Handling becomes easier, no beans are missed out on or fall through the wire, parchment can be poured all at once
Already tucked in nets, parchment can be quickly wrapped in canvas in order to protect from rain and humidity at night
The CPU's range in size: the biggest one in the area gathers 74 farmers while others collect the cherries of 10 farmers only. A total of 158 shade nets and 100 plastic canvas were given to 13 CPU's neighboring Machare. Using the shade nets means another step to professionalization and towards a more consistent quality. Easing the work of coffee farmers supports keeping the farm job attractive for generations to follow. Ensuring a stable coffee infrastructure usually creates greater coffees for roasters and coffee lovers. Thank you Bente for your support!