Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, which are seeds of a berry from the coffea plant. The genius coffee is native to tropical Africa. The worlds second most valuable traded community, only behind petroleum is the huge source of income for the people in the rural communities in Uganda.
My trip to the Eastern part of Uganda to further explore the beauty of nature and culture of the people provided me an opportunity to be exposed to the art and science of making this beverage with a daily consumption of 2.5 billion a day.
Most coffee farms are nestled in between vegetable, potato and maize farms. on the mountains through to the plains. As we hiked to the Mount Elgon, we met families working on the farmlands.
We were provided an opportunity by a women group which process the coffee bean for a big export company in the region.
The coffee bean is soaked in water for about 7 – 8 days to ferment. It is dried for about three days in the sun. The dried bean is pounded to get the husk out. The pounded bean is further sieved with air to fly the husk out. During this period fire is prepared to roast the bean.
The roasting process is very detail and meticulous. The beans are stirred in the pot with a wooden ladle at a constant speed. This provides each bean to be roasted. The aroma escaping from the pot will automatically make you know it is ready. The roasted bean is further pounded to make it in the powder. You can further sieve the powder to get your coffee smother.
Through out the process of making coffee, two things struck me. The use of manpower through out the making process and how fair are the prices being paid by the export companies to farmers. In the 21st century when the world is investing in new technology to make production more efficient, farmers of cash crops seems to be left out of the equation (cocoa farms in Ghana and Cote d ivoire).
Families especially women and children in these communities have to endure long hours of labor intensive activities on the farms to ensure that the world continues to enjoy their favourite beverage. From the carting of firewood and water from the mountains, to the manual pounding of the beans to de husk and the excessive exposure to fumes and heat from their local stoves when roasting the beans.
Does not look as if these farmers get a fair price regime with these export companies but this is another topic for another day. Corruption perceptions among government appointees are quite high making community members developing apathy when it comes to development.
I can’t remember the last time I started my day without coffee and it was really a wonderful experience learning how to make my own coffee on a farm house in Uganda.