Arabica coffee is amongst the main crops cultivated on the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Here the volcanic soils are moist and rich in nutrients, a result of reliable rains blown in from the Indian Ocean and the proliferation of springs from the bare rock. Banana trees provide shade and a nutrient-rich mulch for the coffee to grow.
On this day trip, you will drive up the slopes of Kilimanjaro to a local family farm. Here you will participate in the full coffee-making process, learning Chagga tribe traditions and tales as you husk, roast, grind and boil your own cup of fresh, single-origin Kilimanjaro coffee. If you visit during harvest time you will also have a chance to try your hand at picking ripe coffee cherries.
Following the coffee-making, you will take a short 30-45 light hike down to the base of a beautiful waterfall, Materuni, where you can bask in the cool mist and even take a dip if you’re feeling brave; the water is crisp and quite cold!
A Short History
Coffee was introduced in the early 20th century by European settlers – missionaries – who first settled in the Kilimanjaro region. The mountain’s southern slopes are home to the Chagga people, one of Tanzania’s 120 tribes and the largest ethnic group. The Chagga is an industrious tribe that has thrived in agriculture from the fertile land, the earlier introduction to education – a result of missionary settlements – and as of late the robust tourism industry brought by the mountain.
Coffee on the mountain tends to be organic by default since the small size of the coffee farms does not allow for investment in pesticides. The hilly land also makes it hard to use machinery, so a lot of the coffee is tendered by hand. Chagga lands are inherited by the children and selling land is taboo. This parceling of land among family over time has resulted in diminished landholdings with every generation, with many farms now less than a hectare (~2.5 acres) in size.