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A Day at the Utengule Coffee Roastery

July 8, 2015

Today we bumped up the muddy, winding roads in Dar on our way to the Utengule Coffee. Utengule Coffee is an established coffee estate and roaster in Tanzania, and there were lots for Wamama Kahawa to learn from them about the industry. The ride was much longer than expected although it was not a great distance from Wamama Kahawa; we were turned around multiple times as we came upon roads that were impassable due to the damage done by the rainy season.  When we finally reached, it was a relief to stretch, get some fresh air, and smell the freshly roasted coffee!

Thomas, our host, showed us the different grades of beans (sorted by size and quality) before they are roasted.  After he showed us the beans, he gave us a little tour of their premises.  We saw where they store their coffee beans, and then we watched the roasting process.  The unroasted beans empty into the roasting machine. Then they are mixed and rotated around as the flames heat the beans to perfection.  Thomas continuously checks the beans with a little sample tool that pulls a few beans out as they are being roasted.  Once the beans have reached their desired color, he pullis a lever and the roasting machine opens, pouring the extremely hot beans into another machine that spins the beans to cool them down.  If the beans were not spun after being roasted, they would continue to cook in their own heat.  They must be moved around and cooled in order to maintain the right level of roast.

Thomas was creating a mixed roast today, so once the beans were cooled to an acceptable temperature, he added buckets of darker beans which had been previously roasted.  After watching this fascinating process, Thomas invited us inside to have a coffee. The three of us from Wamama Kahawa enjoyed delicious Americanos freshly made by Thomas as he recounted the difficulties and rewards of running a business in Tanzania.  Many of the topics he discussed were important to Wamama Kahawa as it grows as a business.  The rules Thomas applied to the coffee industry can also be applied to life in Dar.  You must stay on your toes, be ready for change, know your business as a local rather than a foreigner, and above all else, be willing to go with the flow.  As we talked, the electricity fluctuated on and off as it often does here, rain pounded down at random intervals, and conversation flowed easily as the coffee enthusiasts became engrossed with all of the lessons Thomas has learnt from living here and running the business for such a long time.  Eventually, we had to say goodbye, and we made our way back to Wamama Kahawa much faster than we had come.  We were soon enjoying a delicious late lunch in the serene cafe despite a few obstacles on the way back.

I have only had a few days in Dar, and even fewer at Wamama Kahawa, but I can already tell that it is a great business doing great things for the community.  In the following weeks I will get to know both the bustling city and peaceful cafe much better, and I will be sure to keep giving updates on how this wonderful little spot is doing!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Gordon wilkins permalink
    July 22, 2015 3:18 am

    Anxiously waiting for more Bri Borch updates.

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