Tanzanian coffees are grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, under the shade of banana trees—truly an exotic location for this East African coffee. Tanzanian coffee is somewhat similar to the coffee of its neighbour north of the border: bright, clean, and aggressively complex.
With its relative proximity to Ethiopia and its shared border with Kenya, some of Tanzania’s population has had a long history and cultural relationship with coffee, namely the Haya people, for whom the plant was not used so much as a beverage as a chewed fruit.
Cooperatives of smallholder farmers started to organize in the 1920s to try to improve market access, but it was many years before Tanzanian coffees caught on internationally.
In 1964, after the countries of Tanganyika and Zanzibar achieved independence from Britain, they combined to establish the Republic of Tanzania—hence the country’s name, Tan/Zania. Growers attempted aggressive growth in the 1970s but had difficulty increasing production. The 1990s saw efforts to reform and privatize coffee exports, allowing growers to sell more directly. Today, in most of the Western world, Tanzanian coffees are famous primarily as separated-out peaberry lots.
Peaberries are a naturally occurring mutation of the coffee seed that forms a single, small, rounder unit than the two “flat beans” that typically sit face-to-face inside a coffee cherry.
In Canada and the United States, a very popular Tanzanian coffee is the peaberry type, and there are a couple of theories about why that's so. Peaberries seem to have a mystique about them. Some swear by peaberries having a degree of flavour potency that normal flat beans lack. They do tend to be slightly pricier on account of both their more limited quantity (since peaberries occur in a smaller percentage of coffee overall) and the labour involved in sorting them out.
Insani Farmers Group
Established in 2001, Insani is a group of 93 farmers situated near the Nangoza River in Songwe, South Tanzania. The river provides a convenient water source for processing their coffee.
The cherry for our particular coffee comes from 20 smallholder farmers who have picked and delivered their harvest to the co-owned central mill. When they deliver the coffee cherries, they hand sort to ensure only the ripe cherry is processed.
The unripe and overripe cherry will be taken back home by the farmers for home processing and will be sold locally or consumed by the farmers themselves.