mt. kilimanjaro coffee tour

Upon landing at Mt. Kilimanjaro airport (whose peak was sadly concealed by thick cloud cover), we found the hotel hostle hovel shuttle and settled in for the 45 minute ride to Moshi and our room for the night.

I think I will write a separate post about how much I loved where we stayed.

Anyway, months earlier we'd signed up for a tour of a local coffee plantation.  Since our flight landed after noon, we only had a few hours of daylight and needed to hustle.  We got out of the shuttle at the um, place, dropped off our bags in our room and got in a different car headed toward the mountain.

Our young taxi driver took us through Moshi, the town from where most Kilimanjaro climbers begin their ascent, and wound his way up the base of the mountain and deeper into the bush. About five minutes past my comfort zone (which has arguably expanded significantly over the last 14 months), we finally pulled into what appeared to be an empty farm and were greeted by who was apparently our tour guide.
"Enjoy coffee tour"
He took us to a cabana, where he gave us an overview of what we'd see on the tour and asked if we'd like to have our traditional lunch now or after the tour.  We were both starving (weird), and asked if we could eat first.  So, naturally, that's when the cook began to prepare our lunch (I mean, it's not like we reserved the tour months ago and arranged what time we'd be there or anything.  Oh wait...).  As we sat and conversed awkwardly with our guide for the next hour, I couldn't help but wonder why we'd rushed to get here (I really should know better at this point).

Eventually, though, we were served our lunch of Pilau rice, bananas and a little bit of meat.  And banana soup.  None of it was particularly bad, just bland.  We finished our meal and sat, awkwardly, a little longer, as it began to sprinkle and the time ticked closer and closer to sunset.  Our guide finally decided he was ready to start the tour, and he led us into the bush.

We walked for at least ten minutes until the guide said anything.  At this point, I was fairly convinced the Tanzanian interpretation of tour meant, "we'll hike your ass all over this plantation," but eventually he began his spiel and we (Joey) made our own cup of coffee starting with the plant to the brew.

Step 1: Pick ripe, red beans from coffee tree.
Step 2: Peel red skin from coffee bean, leaving slimy residue.
Step 3: Use above contraption to rinse slime from coffee bean.
Step 4: Leave cleaned coffee beans out to dry
Step 5: Remove second skin from dried coffee bean using large mortar and pestle.
Step 6: Roast beans
Step 7: Grind roasted beans
Step 8: Add ground coffee beans to boiling water
Step 9: Strain grounds from coffee
Step 10: Enjoy your very fresh cup of coffee in a mud hut.
We also learned about all the different kinds of bananas grown in Tanzania, most notably, the kind they make into beer.  Naturally, the highlight of Joey's coffee tour was this liter of home-brewed banana beer.  He said it tasted something like flour and nothing like beer.

As delicious as that looked (and as convinced I was by the tour guide's reassurances that everything had been prepared hygienically), I decided to pass on the opportunity to drink bush beer.  I watched Joey get dysentery in Mexico and I was fairly certain I was watching him get it again.

But despite all my paranoia, Joey survived the beer and we survived the drive back to Moshi, and even arriving as the sun set.  Now all we had to do was survive the night at our hotel.

Click here for all of my pictures from our coffee tour.

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