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Tanzania Ruvuma HOPE Project
Tanzanian coffee is not as strange as some of it’s African’s neighbors, but you will notice that it is sweeter than most coffees, and you will pick up flavors of oranges and peaches in the undertones of the body. The HOPE project is not a particular estate, but “fair” and “responsible” coffee estates are hard to find in Africa. This is a high-quality co-op that we are excited to be supporting, and there’s nothing disappointing in the taste.
This coffee is from the Southwest region of Mbeya, bordering the countries of Malawi and Zambia, and is traded commercially as the “Hope Project.” The Hope Project is a co-operative of farmers who all grow small crops of coffee on their own individual land and then pool their crops together. These are largely self-sufficient households who also have goats and gardens, and sometimes work another trade on the side. Individually, they could not afford the technology to process their coffee correctly, and could not fetch a fair price for their crop. However, as a group, they share state-of-the-art coffee processors, and in the past couple years have gained an international reputation for having some of the best coffee in the country, which likewise, has earned them a market price well above “fair trade” standards. The coffee is sold and exported by the largest cocoa exporting company in the country, but the company is committed to transparency and verifies that all farmers are paid fairly for their contribution.
HOPE stands for Highland Organic Products Export, and the farmers are certified by Fair Trade and Organic third partys.. They grow coffee in traditional methods using their own natural mulches and composts and pest controls, while shading the coffee under other crops, such as banana trees. One pest-control method is to start a fire around the coffee trees and “smoke out” the bugs early in the season. Another consideration is that they live on mountainous land, often a good 5000 feet above sea level, an altitude where pests are less common. Since coffee is only a “side project” for these families, there’s no pressure in growing a perfect bean or cutting corners to increase profits. They grow coffee naturally, the same way their ancestors have grown coffee for centuries.