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Coffee Adventures Through Africa

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It is said that good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter, and nothing is truer than having great adventures in the company of superb coffee. Besides the fuel that coffee provides, the memories I made traveling through Africa as an environmental consultant, weave an aromatic journey of unforgettable senses and adventures which I would love to share.

What I love most about coffee is that it can improve your memory, which can be critical when trying to catch a flight in a foreign country, choose a meal from a menu in a foreign language, or simply smell the unforgettable aroma of coffee beans.

Coffee has many benefits such as antioxidant properties that have the potential to make you feel happier, and it is known to kick-start your adrenaline, providing better mental focus, and even increasing physical performance.

Who would not need this adrenaline boost, especially when you know you have to jump off a cargo plane, dash across a runway, negotiate a path through domestic arrivals or international departures with its bottlenecks, all just to secure a ride home?

One thing I love about coffee is that it makes the world a better place when you are with a group of like-minded people in a bustling café drinking the same great coffee.

And your friends are more likely to share in your adventures if there is a photo of coffee in the shot!

Bahori’s coffee adventures have criss-crossed Africa, and I would love to share them with you here.

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Adventures in the Republic of Congo

One of my first stops was the Republic of Congo where I read a lesser-known book called Memoirs of a Porcupine by Alain Mabanckou, which is written from the point of view of a porcupine who assassinates people on behalf of a young man named Kibandi.

It got me thinking about my own spirit animal. What is yours?

And while I am yet to find a great coffee blend here, there are many adventures to be had. Take the north south national highway from Pont Noire to the Gabonese Border – a full 24hrs in a four-by-four covering 275 km – and experience the breath-taking views through felled tree logs and flowing rivers.

The Congo-Ocean Railway takes you through the Mayombe mountains, one of the many biodiverse and unique areas in the Republic of Congo boasting spectacular views and animal species.

Finally, if you want to sit back and relax while sipping a cup of Africa’s finest, I recommend the tranquillity of Mvassa Beach; where you can learn to surf or simply sit back and watch the lazy Atlantic waves wash up on shore.

Ghana’s growing artisanal coffee beans

Further afield on the western bulge of the African continent you will find Ghana known for producing premium small-batch coffee beans and being the world’s second largest cocoa producer.

While it is still a small coffee producer, Ghana’s demand is growing especially with the native Robusta coffee plants and artisan coffee specialty.

Ghana’s espresso roast blends are inexpensive and have double the caffein content of Arabica coffee for that extra boost. While I found it a little on the bitter side, farmers are continually trying to perfect their quality and speciality coffee cafes are popping up all the time.

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Namibia, Uganda, Burkino Faso and Guinea

There are many great spots in Africa to sip a great cuppa and experience the vibrant cities, environment, and society around you.

In Namibia, there is a 275 meter long, 9-meter-wide wooden jetty that was built in 1904 and was restored to 325m in length and 14m wide. I highly recommend a strong European coffee accompanied by a Stroh rum donut at sunrise on the pier.

Uganda has always been a node from which I connect to other African countries, with Coffee being its number one export, I cannot wait to spend some extended time exploring her coffee surprises in the future.

Most coffee grown in Uganda (80%) is of the Robusta variety and is appreciated by coffee aficionados because it is naturally processed which brings out its true natural flavour.

The other 20% of Uganda’s coffee is the Arabica and the Arabica cultivar Bugishu / Bugisu, which is grown near Sipi Falls on the western slopes of Mt. Elgon, one of Uganda’s largest mountains.

On to Burkina Faso, a west African sister country to Ghana; it produces a coffee bean that has both earthy and bitter flavour and is ranked fifty-five producing 0.1% of the globe’s coffee production of the Robusta variety.

While helping out on amending an environmental and social impact assessment for a large mining player in Guinea, I was able to taste their Macenta-grown Robusta coffee and really enjoyed its pleasant smooth profile.

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My Best Coffee Picks in Africa

The amazing “RIFTVALLEY FINEST COFFEE”, one of the top twenty global coffees – I am still savouring a bag of their delicious beans – Batch # 005.

This Zanzibar coffee contains much of the attributes of Riftvalley coffee, but it has more body due to the addition of some high-quality Robusta from the Lake Victoria region.

Also fabulous is Liberica coffee from Liberia which is unlike any coffee I have had before, it was so full bodied with a lovely woody taste that I could not get enough of.

You can find this coffee at Utengule Coffee Lodge where you experience an oasis of calm on the slopes of the mighty Mbeya range in Southern Tanzania, with spectacular views across the East African Rift Valley.

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My next best coffee contender is from Rwanda with its Arabica variety known as “Bourbon”. (Rwanda You have to try one of the following:

  • Kizi Rift, Region, Central Rwanda – these coffees grow in Rwanda’s Central Rift Valley and are light roast with a taste of citrus and chocolate. Also, look out for beans with a hint of nutmeg and roasted chestnut accents over a buttery caramel base.
  • Akagera, Region: Southeast Rwanda, Wildlife Region – the coffees from Akagera are noted for their sharp tartness and clean finish. They are medium-bodied, with hints of blackberry, black tea, and cardamom, as well as peppery aromatics. Wonderful as a drip coffee or iced coffee.
  • Just to spice things up a bit have a crack at the Akabanga; it is a popular chili oil in Rwanda that is been around since the 1980s. It grew in popularity in Africa, gaining somewhat of a cult following, and has spread into Europe and the United States. It is a chili oil made from a mixture of African grown Scotch Bonnet peppers and African grown habanero peppers mixed with vegetable oil.

Saving the best for last – Ethiopia

Ethiopia, the origin of coffee in Africa, has a truly inspiring collection of coffee beans – there are between 6 and 10 thousand different types of coffee from Ethiopia.

Grown in the regions of Sidamo, Yirgacheffe, Guji, Harar, Genika and Limu, it is worth delving into the different flavours and varieties before committing to just one type.

Try them all, or the ones you can source in your country to find the right ones that have you coming back for more; I have been known to regularly buy 6kg of their coffee at a time to match my craving.

One I enjoyed particularly is Tomoca Coffee (also written TO.MO.CA) which is a family-owned coffee company started in the 1950’s and based in Addis Ababa. This Italian-style coffee, made with Ethiopian arabica beans is top quality and well worth trying.

On a last note, DRC coffee has so far eluded me, and it is my next mission to try their beans which are grown at great heights on the rich volcanic soil of the eastern DRC.

Legend has it that this Congolese coffee is highly versatile; its flavours vary widely from the fruity, with red plum, cantaloupe, stone fruit, plum, cherry, and liquorice notes, to the creamy, with white chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut.

It stands on its own as a single origin or a great complement to blends. The volcanoes, elevation, Lake Kivu, and the rich and fertile soil create ideal conditions for unique beans.

Some of the roasters whom I have introduced to Congolese coffee sometimes compare it to great Guatemalan and Colombian coffees.

If you are wanting to experience African Coffee at its best look out for any of these delicious coffees and join me on a taste adventure that will have you exploring in no time.

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 Meet the Blogger and Coffee lover

Hylton Allison is a coffee lover and founder of Bahori Consulting, an environmental consulting business that was established in 2014. He prides himself on serving and assisting his client’s business with commercial consciousness. Hylton has 20+ years’ experience in South Africa and Africa.

Hylton Allison

Author Hylton Allison

Hylton Allison, Founder Of Bahori Consulting, An Environmental Consulting Business Established In 2014, Prides Himself On Serving And Impacting His Client’s Business With Commercial Consciousness. Hylton Has 20+ Years’ Experience In South Africa/ Africa And 14 Years In The DRC , 5 Of Which Have Been In The DRC Rainforest.

More posts by Hylton Allison

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