In the words of the great Ernest Hemingway: “It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a note book from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write”..
On my recent visit to Tanzania I ventured to Mount Kilimanjaro to taste an espresso or two made with the locally grown and produced coffee. I found the Union cafe, with a great espresso coffee machine situated in an ornate, colonial era building owned by The Kilimanjaro Native Co-operative union (KNCU). This is a federation of more than 60,000 local coffee growers founded in 1930 by Sir Charles Dundas, a former local district commissioner. The coffee is grown in the volcanic soils of this great mountain and produces wet processed Arabica coffee.
You could say that Dundas , a man with grey blond hair and a bold mustachio (according to his portrait in the cafe), is the patron saint of coffee in Moshi. His enlightened socialist entrepreneurialism enabled Chagga coffee growers to compete on equal terms on the world markets with European growers, and export their crop to Europe and other African countries.
I was fascinated, and in such joy of the espresso I was drinking that I was inspired to look more into the coffee of the region.
The region, with gently sloping mountain terrain and volcanic soil, along with a mild climate make it conducive to growing fine arabicas. There is a good amount of peaberries, which apparently have a much more intense flavour than regular beans, and generally the coffee has a bright, sharp character.
I definitely recommend trying Kilimanjaro coffee in your espresso coffee machine; just remember to buy a single origin Kilimanjaro coffee bean and not a blend. I would also recommend a medium roast.