A couple of weeks ago Adam Bosse, owner of Coffee Afficionado called me. During the conversation he mentioned that he was going to Kenya to check out some new plantations and that he wanted to work with me. My response was “Wow, that sounds cool!” Adam’s response was, “You wanna go? Pack your camera and I’ll make the arrangements.” A few days later I was on Emirates for a 19 hour flight with a stop in Dubai.
For 2 ½ days we visited exporters, plantations, dry processing mill, wet processing mill, and the coffee exchange where the coffee is auctioned off for export. This trip was wonderful and eye opening. The limited amount of equipment was antiquated, and would never pass the New York Health Department inspection, but it worked. The amount of physical labor was incredible. One processing plant had 2 shifts of 80 employees counting, packing and filling the bags to about 110 pounds each. Then the workers would carry the bags on their shoulder as if they weighed half that much. There is something to be said about not having everything automated. People had jobs and there was a sense of community.
Kenya is actually a tea drinking country. It seems like most of the coffee is exported. Much to the chagrin of the coffee people I don’t drink coffee. I think it tastes like shit, which they found amusing.
I learned so much about coffee on this trip. I had no idea the amount of work it takes to bring the coffee to market. Growing, separating the grades and sizes, removing the 3 layers around the bean, wet process, dry process, roasting and then the transporting the beans to each of these locations (each process is in a different plant).
When Starbucks started with a $5 cup of coffee and everyone was shocked, seeing what goes into the production it should have been $20.
We did get a few hours to drive thru Nairobi National Park to see the animals. Unfortunately it was 2 in the afternoon and the animals are not too active (no lions at all).
English and Swahili are the languages spoken. I learned how to say “Hello”, “See You Soon”, “Thank You” and “Leave Me Alone” in case I was being bothered at one of the markets. I wanted to say “No thank you, Maybe later” but there was really nothing in Swahili that expressed that.
The country is beautiful, the people were wonderful and the Swahili food was delicious. It was a great trip but coffee still tastes like shit!