1947 James Woods (actor)
1955 Albert Einstein (theory of relativity)
On This Day:
1980 Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) declares its independence from Britain
Have a good Tuesday, 18th April
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1919 Ian Smith (premier of Rhodesia after independence from Britain)
2013 Margaret Thatcher (1st woman British Prime Minister)
On This Day:
1986 Clint Eastwood is elected mayor of Carmel, California
Have a good Friday, 8th April
The Coffee Bean in Africa
It will come as no surprise that coffee comes from the coffee bean, which is actually the seed of the coffee plant – strictly speaking a fruit. Coffee plants can, of course, grow wild, but world demand for coffee means that it has become a popular cash crop. The seeds of the coffee plant are processed and eventually brewed into the drink that we all enjoy so much.
However, it is more complicated than that – there is a large variety of coffee plants, and hence coffee bean, out there. For the most part, coffee plants are defined by the region in which they are grown. Nations with high, cool regions tend to have the best conditions for growing coffee, and the most expensive coffees are often those grown in volcanic soils – such as parts of Hawaii.
More than 75% of coffee beans sold worldwide are variants of Arabica, while most of the remainder are variants of Robusta. Countries in Africa produce a large proportion of the world’s coffee, and this article will attempt to describe some of the better known varieties of African coffee.
Sidamo: This is coffee grown in the large southern region of Ethiopia named after the Sidamo, or Sidama, people. Before 1995, Sidamo was a province, but has since been broken into smaller regions – but the whole area is still designated as Sidamo. Coffee grown in this region is sold as Yirgacheffe, named after the village of Yirga Ch/’efe.
The best of this coffee is gown on the higher slopes of the region, and is water processed. Yirgacheffe is generally considered the best type of Ethiopian coffee.
Harar: This coffee is aromatic and often is characterised by its blueberry like aroma and after taste. Harar comes in either shortberry or longberry form – longberry being physically longer than most other forms of coffee beans.
It is widely believed that Ethiopa was the country where coffee was first consumed and grown by farmers, but interestingly other, neighbouring African nations did not start cultivating coffee until the 1800’s.
Chipinge: This coffee is named after the town of Chipinga, on the mountainous slopes of the Eastern Highlands. These mountains are on the border of Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The almost perfect conditions and elevation allow the production of fine coffees, with a rich flavour and superb after taste. This coffee is often brought to market under the name of Zimbabwean Salimba, and is considered the best of the coffees grown in this country.
Political tensions have affected the production of this style of coffee, but it is a revenue source for the people, so is still available.
Fine Robusta coffees, usually used to make instant coffee, is grown in the Mount Elgon region of Uganda, which is close to Kenya – it can often be confused with Kenyan coffees due to its taste and appearance. This coffee is known as Bugisa Coffee.
Also grown on the high regions of central Africa is Arusha Coffee, named after the region of Tanzania at the foot of MountMeru. Tanzania produces what is widely regarded as some of the world’s best Arabica coffees.
Kenya is very well known for its coffee production. Most of the coffee produced in this region is mild Arabica, and exported world wide.
What makes Kenyan coffee special is the way in which it is produced – most of the coffee is grown by small, independent farmers, working in a successful co-op style. Over 70% of the coffee beans sold in Kenya come through this system. Over six million citizens of Kenya are employed directly or indirectly in the coffee industry, making it a major employer in the country, and a significant contributor to the country’s GDP.