Are you tasting your delicious Arabica coffee espresso right now? Are you enjoying the power of the Robusta flavour that makes your day every morning? Well, you are then appreciating one of the most important product of East Africa’s agriculture. The regions facing the Indian Ocean’s coast are the main producers of this wonderful “drug” that, in centuries, spread throughout the world and also became the main product of Brazilian plantations. Today the most famous coffees are American, Brazilian and Italian. But no one of them could be what it is without the trees so many people cultivate in East Africa. If you book a safari holiday in this part of the continent, you shall have the chance to also visit the coffee plantations.
African coffee plantations, a modern tradition
History of coffee plantations in Africa is recent. A very “modern” tradition, here. East African regions started to cultivate coffee between 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to the idea of European missionary friars. They were especially French friars, from the Congregation du Saint Esprit, also known as the “black fathers”. The first cultivations were on the island of Zanzibar, then – after 1868 – they moved to Tanzania’s inland regions.
From there they spread to Kenya, Uganda and then to more French colonies in central Africa. But the best quality plants remained those cultivated on the East coast. Thanks to particular climate conditions, to the fertile soil and the volcanic land, this coffee has a special flavour. You know some of them: the Arabica and Robusta typology, for example. But there are more, and you can discover and taste them as you go and meet the local people and villages.
East African coffee
Ethiopian coffee is the most delicious Arabica typology. The coffee plants find their best soil over there and the flavour is stronger, because they often dry the seeds under the equatorial sun. Also Rwanda is a great producer of Arabica coffee, which is the main economic boost, over there, besides the mountain safaris. Due to the different climate in Kenya, the coffee they produce there is even stronger. The acid flavour and the bold nuances make it particular.
The highest quality coffe is produced in Tanzania, and of course in Zanzibar too, where it all began. Most part of the production is Arabica with 30% of Robusta, as well. Nine regions scattered all over the nation cultivate coffee, and this makes Tanzania the top producer. Uganda is the main producer of Robusta quality coffee, which takes its best characteristics from the mountain climate. The regions that produce most are Kampala forests and Mount Elgon area.
Safari at the coffee plantations
Some tour operators include coffee plantations in the traditional tours or safaris, especially in Tanzania. There are coffee plantations tours in Zanzibar but also near Arusha and Lake Manyara region. Uganda coffee plantations tours include the famous Bulansuku Farm, and the other farms in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibale regions. The region of Nairobi, in Kenya, hosts some of the most important coffee farms which are always open to tourists for a “taste tour”.
During these tours you will visit both the plantations and the laboratories where they work and refine the coffee. So they make the famous dark powder everyone loves! You will meet the people who really do the hard job and will have the privilege of tasting the first flavour of a very good coffee made on the spot!