Tanzania HOPE Project AA

So much of the Tanzania on the market is a peaberry, but these highest grade, non-peaberry coffee beans are easier for home-roasting machines to handle. Due to the lower density of the bean, they require less heat, and if you roast them on the light side, you are much less apt to get a sour cup than with peaberry beans. This is a wonderful Tanzanian coffee: just the right amount of acidity, mild citrus fruitiness without being weird, wonderful aroma, lingering sweet aftertaste, it’s a winner. I like to keep it out of the second cracks to get a little more brightness, but if you like dark roasts and don't mind a little bitterness, it's quite drinkable well into the 2nd cracks.

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 of Tanzania do not have any need for chemicals or pesticides, nor would they be able to afford them. 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.