The sounds of nature in your ears, sitting relaxed on a luxury veranda and the aroma of coffee filling the air around you. All of this is to be found at the Arusha Coffee Lodge where your secret coffee dreams will come true.

 

Not far outside Arusha town, at the foothills of Mount Meru, a huge area of coffee plantations provides a completely different picture of hustling and buzzing Arusha. Fresh air, wide lands and the sounds of nature. Located in the middle of this beauty is the oldest plantation since German colony – the Arusha Coffee Farm. A luxury hotel providing relaxation and a moment of silence before or after a safari in the surrounding parks for over 118 years. It hosts 18 standard rooms and 12 suits, located between endless rows of coffee trees. One hundred acres cover the property of the Elewana Collection, owner of numerous luxury lodges and camps in Tanzania and Kenya.

 

 

It is here that guests can experience an amazing and intoxicating tour to understand the making of elewana coffee.

Nassoro Shomari is one of the three coffee professionals and guides of the Arusha Coffee Lodge. He has been in coffee business for ten years and knows everything there is to know about the cultivation, harvest and processing of coffee. “In the beginning I got lost with all the routes – it is a huge compound! But now I am an expert, I know every single tree because I am out here every day for so many years”, says Nassoro leading us confidently through the area. 

 

 

On the coffee farm one will only find the fine Arabica coffee that grows best on high altitudes with a lot of rain. Arusha, laying at 1400m above sea level, Moshi and Ngorongoro are therefore Arabica-coffee favourable areas.

It is an early morning in July and the sun is slowly returning to its power after the long rains. It is now that the fields are full of locals who are carefully handpicking the red fruits from the trees. They have been ripening for over half a year since the flowering season in October and November that turned the area into an ocean of white blossom. More than 300 pickers a day are working now for four months to harvest the whole area. About 90% of them are women.

Passing through the long rows of coffee trees Nassoro explains the long process from the bean to a healthy coffee tree. Seven months of growing into a seedling, then 3-5 years to grow into a fruit-bearing tree. After about 10 years the tree will have produced the first real quality beans. The excellence of the beans are depending on the right soil, enough rain and the right amount of sunlight. Every ten years the stamps will be cut to make place for another and better branch of coffee fruits. This process can be repeated two times before loss of quality.

 

“After the picking it is crucial that the beans are brought directly to processing, to make sure the aromas will be at their best quality”, explains Nassoro leading us back to the farmhouse. In the process yellow beans are pressed out of the red fruits, each carrying two or three of them. They will then be fermented for two weeks to remove the sugar from it. Once dried from the hot sun, the beans will be broken open to remove the outer shell as well as the inner silver skin membrane until only a green bean is left.

 

 

Per year the plantations of the Arusha Coffee Farm produce about 40,000 kg of coffee beans of which 30% will be processed directly at the Farm for domestic use and sales on site; 70% will be exported to Germany, the US and Japan. To ensure the quality of the coffee only green beans will be exported and roasted once they reach their destination country.

 

The first time to smell the coffee aroma is the moment the green beans will be roasted by the machine. They pass different stages of roasting from Cinnamon Roast, to New England to American. The darker the beans are roasted, the less acidity is in the drink and the better the quality of the coffee.

“I can tell the state of roasting just from the smell of the beans – without seeing anything”, says our coffee expert Nassoro.

 

Once the beans are ready, they are grounded to a rough pulver called “Coarse Grind”. A cup that holds about 28g of the coffee pulver will be mixed with 450ml of hot water. The secret at this point: leave the water for few minutes after boiling, otherwise your coffee will be bitter. Afterwards the pulver will be pressed down in the coffee plunger and the remaining waste removed. The result is a completely fresh and aromatic brew of original Tanzanian coffee.

 

It is an interesting and informative tour in the middle of nature that will stimulate your senses and leave you with the tasteful aroma of coffee. What a great place to be!

 

 

For more information and rates visit their Facebook account @arushacoffeelodge

 

 

“I simply love dancing. And after struggling to get the support of my family at first, this job is my life now. Dancing changed my life. While others didn’t have anything, I got something I was really good at.”

Brayson Silas, Dancer of the Cultural Arts Center (second from left)

 

 

‘From the day we are born until we are gone, it’s all music and dance’

By Katharina Stein

 

Africa as a continent was long known to be the colorful, vivid and aesthetic origin of art, especially of dance and music. A natural rhythm that melts into one with the heartbeat – a very idyllic picture. Nowadays this picture is not anymore part of the daily life of Tanzanian people. Traditional music and dance became more and more unimportant over the last decades.

To change this, the Cultural Arts Center (CAC) at Tumaini University Makumira has established a slogan: “Shiriki kuhifadhi utamaduni wetu” (Get involved in preserving our culture). The CAC project, which got initial help through a funding by the European Union, should help to keep the cultural heritage of Tanzania alive. The main idea is to bring traditional dance and music not only closer to tourists, but also to the people of Tanzania, students as well as families – everybody is welcome!

“What we are is not being done anywhere else in Tanzania”, explains Randall Stubbs, the Programme Manager of CAC, “we are providing employment opportunities for dancers and for researchers. We are providing access to information that people genuinely want to know!”

 

 

The Cultural Arts Center offers regular performances presented by a group of 18 trained dancers and musicians, workshops in dancing, instrument making and cooking, everything according to Northern Tanzanian culture, including Meru, Chagga and Masai. “We are trying to have a larger umbrella to show multiple ethnic groups and not just one. That makes us unique”, emphasizes Mr. Stubbs.

Dancers from all over Tanzania were chosen and trained in a special workshop by Cassius Mlewa Maganga, Music/Dance instructor of CAC at the time. “Our work was to see who could fit in our vision”, he says, “Our life is all about music and dance. People were teaching one another through art. So it is very important that we keep this alive, at least to restore our traditional education.”

In order to achieve this, the dancers were also trained for outreach programs. They are going to schools and teach students different traditional dances and songs to make them aware of their cultural heritage. “We see that an even more important aspect of the project is getting to the schools and into the communities to share about the culture and why the culture is important”, confirms Randall Stubbs.

“Many people don’t like traditional dance, they think it is something from the past”, says Oliver Mrema, dancer of the CAC group, “I believe that many people lost their traditions, but actually they would be interested. So if they see us dancing, they are happy and feel like we bring them home again.”

Outside the university a huge project has been completed about half a year ago. On the ground of CAC a huge building complex has been built. A performance hall for 300 visitors but also a dance studio, a music library, exhibition area, conference rooms and a big parking lot for visitors. “We are looking that in the big picture Makumira can be a place, a hub, for East Africa, if not even a bigger area, for things dealing with arts and research”, explains Mr. Stubbs.

Building plans for CAC complex (top) & recent drone shot of the area now (bottom)

 

However, like any other projects, CAC is facing some challenges. “Because our project is still growing, we are not very much known in Arusha area, we are still facing many challenges. But we are working very hard so we are also becoming popular and famous around the area”, explains Glory Ewald, administrative assistant to the project. That seems to be also a big issue for the dancers: “It is a challenge also for us. Having used a lot of time to prepare a performance, and then not having a big audience to present it to – that can be tough”, explains Naliene Omari, dancer and drummer of CAC.

But plans to overcome this have already started to be put into action. “I think there is so much potential out there”, assures Mr. Stubbs who is very positive about the project’s future, “I love the energy that we have in the group. And I love the quality of what they are doing.”

Outreach in schools shall help children remember their heritage.

 

 

 

 

“We share one thing”, he concludes, “Responsibility to restore our culture. I am sure, in our spirits, we all want to do this, keep (our culture) alive”. It is a unique project, offering a mixture of traditional dances and music, providing support for young artists and continuing Tanzanian culture preservation.

 

 

Regular performances take place Tuesday and Thursday at 4pm on CAC ground behind Tumaini University, Makumira.

More information at http://www.cac.ac.tz