Taste: Blackberry, Pineapple, Juicy
Process: Washed and sun dried on African beds
Region: Mbozi, Mbeya, Tanzania
Altitude: 1600 masl
Producer: Apson Mwag'onda
This coffee is a celebration of summer flavours. It was one of the highlights from the African coffees on our cupping table. Expect a pronounced blackberry tanginess and pineapple sweetness with a great juicy body. Simply a great brew.
Usongwe Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society (Iyenga AMCOS) was registered in 1993 under the Tanzanian cooperative act – though the group’s originators go back even before the creation of the AMCOS system in Tanzania, when all coffee groups were organized under state-regulated unions. The group takes its name takes its name from the surrounding area and the nearby Usongwe valley, which is populated with smallholder farmers and tiny villages. When Usongwe first started, it was composed of 300 members from five villages – all located in the surrounds of Mbeya in Southern Tanzania. Today, the group has grown to represent 520 smallholder farmers from all around the county of Iwindi in rural Mbeya.
The importance of coffee farming to the communities belonging to Usongwe AMCOS cannot be overstated: coffee is pretty much the only significant cash crop in the region and forms the backbone of most families’ sustenance. Most of the farmers in the group have a long family history farming coffee, and members have learned and inherited farms from their fathers and grandfathers over the years. Although many families grow crops such as maize, tomatoes and other vegetables – which may be sold at local markets – for the most part all other agricultural products are used for subsistence. Some families also keep livestock, but coffee production is still the primary economic activity for most.
Access to water for irrigation during the dry season remains one of the biggest challenges that people in the region face, and most families have boreholes that they use for water. These boreholes are always precarious, and often run dry, often posing issues to cherry development and harvest activities.
The average age of trees on the farms working under Usongwe AMCOS is 20-35 years old. Trees remain productive because of regular maintenance, but pruning is increasingly important to keep the trees producing and in good health. Farmers working with the Usongwe group receive agricultural and technical advice and assistance on a regular basis, and stumping is often recommended in cases where the trees look old and week. Technical advice on productive pruning is also given, and farms are given regular ‘check ups’ immediately after the harvest season and during the rainy season to ensure that best practices are being followed. Despite these efforts, farmers, on average, only produce around six 60 kg bags of green coffee a year (500 kg of parchment). Support from trained advisors in maintaining and increasing productivity and quality is crucial if farmers are to continue to survive on coffee in the region.
For the most part, farmers plant and manage coffee varieties that were grown by their fathers and grandfathers. The Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) has been active in developing and distributing varieties that are resistant to the ever present Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and Coffee Leaf Rust, as well, and farmers are increasingly adopting these varieties because of their resistance. Compact is one of the newer of these, and it is being widely adopted in the countryside due to its high resistance to Coffee Berry Disease.
All our coffees are freshly roasted and packed in recyclable bags at our roastery in Penryn, Cornwall.
We roast, hand-pack and ship all orders daily, including Smält Hot Chocolates, merchandise and hardware items.
All orders received by 12pm will be shipped the same day.
UK SHIPPING CHARGES
Royal Mail Tracked 48 - £3.50
Royal Mail Tracked 24 - £4.50
Orders over £20 - Free Royal Mail Tracked 48