Plainspoken Coffee. A Coffee Review for Ordinary People by Ordinary People, #24.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Gombe Reserve.
Recently I posted an overview of coffee from Tanzania, an east African country best known for their marketing of peaberry coffees. In the western part of the country, near the shores of Lake Tanganyika and the town of Kigoma, lies Gombe Stream National Park where researcher Jane Goodall began studying chimpanzees in 1960. This area is also the source of Green Mountain’s new Gombe Reserve coffee, via the 2,700-member Kalinzi Cooperative.
Deforestation has isolated Gombe’s chimpanzees, whose population has declined to fewer than 100 individuals, within the small national park. This severely limits their range and ability to enlarge their communities. This coffee will makes a significant contribution to the preservation of the Gombe chimps. I can’t do any better than to quote from the Jane Goodall Institute web site:
Those who purchase this high-quality coffee are supporting cultivation of a sustainable, chimpanzee-friendly crop grown by farmers in the impoverished Kigoma region of western Tanzania. The coffee is shade-grown (meaning trees aren’t cut down). What’s more, because chimpanzees don’t like coffee beans, they don’t raid the fields, thus avoiding human-wildlife conflict — an increasing, life-threatening problem in areas where human and wildlife live in proximity.
JGI hopes the partnership with Kigoma coffee growers will result in a new leafy corridor connecting vital rangelands from which the Gombe chimpanzees have been cut off due to deforestation. The corridor will allow the chimpanzees to expand their feeding range and mingle with other chimpanzee groups, which is vital for genetic diversity and disease resistance.
By connecting the 2,700 small-scale farmers in Kigoma’s Kalinzi Cooperative with new markets and introducing new quality-control and production methods, JGI and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is helping the farmers significantly boost their income and coffee production. This gives farmers an incentive to work with JGI in the future to set aside land for the chimpanzees.
If key villages reserve 10 to 20 percent of their land, there will be an interlinked, multi-village forest reserve, providing additional habitat to chimpanzees and connecting Gombe National Park to forest reserves in Burundi.
The only thing that could make you feel better about this coffee than all that is if it were also incredibly delicious. Folks, this coffee is!
This is a medium roast, and the beans had a sweet smell, with hints of honey, flowers, and even a little tobacco. It was a distinctively African smell, but seemed unique somehow.
With its proximity to Kenya, I think we all expected this Tanzanian coffee to have the wine-like tones so characteristic of Kenyans. Instead, we were surprised by the little citrus kick when piping hot and the undertone of fruit that followed that was so reminiscent of an Ethiopian coffee. Finally, when cooler, came the tart wine finish.
This coffee was marvelously complex, but not jarringly so, as some Africans can be. It harmoniously went from one flavor to the next, each nicely balanced. The bird song it evoked for us was that of the Yellow-breasted Chat: full of interesting and sometimes unusual notes, all coming from an enigmatic source. There was only one shortcoming in the Gombe Reserve — we felt it failed brewed in drip coffee maker, even using a gold filter. The loss of character was nearly complete. Please prepare this special coffee in a French press, Chemex , Eva Cafe Solo, or vacuum pot. This is seriously good coffee — 4 motmots.