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Coffee plantation at Kilimanjaro

Coffee Farmer Dennis from Kilimanjaro

Living with and learning from a local coffee farmer family

You will live with a coffee farming family at Kilimanjaro, who runs their own small coffee plantation. Coffee farmer Dennis, who speaks good English, tells you everything about the cultivation and processing of coffee and takes you through the steps for production.
On the plantation, coffee plants are grown, coffee beans harvested, dried, the beans separated off the undesirable ingredients and bagged. You can participate in all steps.
Coffee from Kilimanjaro is of high quality and is popular worldwide. For Tanzania, the Kilimanjaro coffee is the most important "cash crop" of the country. The town of Moshi in Kilimanjaro is the main hub for the coffee trade.
Growing coffee requires great care and expertise. You can learn from Dennis, the coffee farmer, how to do this.

Tanzania's most important "cash crop"

Coffee is the most widely consumed and most popular hot beverage in the Western world, and many take a cup of coffee for granted every morning. In more than 70 countries of the world, a total of 7 million tons of coffee is being cultivated and further processed every year, from which 75% are being exported to consuming countries such as the US, Europe and Japan. For many African and Latin American developing countries, coffee is an important cash crop. Coffee is mostly cultivated by small scale farmers for whom the crop is the base of existence.
For Tanzania, coffee is the most important cash crop. Coffee from Tanzania is very popular due to its low level of acidity. Very high quality coffee beans are being cultivated at the Kilimanjaro region, called "Chagga AA", named after the local tribe. Chagga AA has a very full-bodied flavour and smell, its Arabica pearl beans contain less acid than for instance coffee beans from Kenya.

Cultivation and further processing of coffee

To cultivate high quality coffee requires a lot of care and knowledge. The Arabica plant is very sensitive; it cannot be exposed to strong wind, heat or cold, and needs permeable soils which can hold a lot of water. In most cases, coffee is being planted within natural forest vegetation or in combination with other crops for the provision of shade. Banana plants for instance can protect the sensitive coffee trees from direct sun due to their large leaves.
When reaching around 15 years, coffee trees provide the highest yield; they can be productive for around 25-40 years. Every tree only yields half a kilo of raw coffee per harvest, requiring a good selection of coffee cherries. Harvesting is always done manually, mostly because the coffee cherries on one branch are usually in different stages of the ripening process.
The ripe berries, which are of dark red colour, have to be handpicked. For the harvester, this means checking and harvesting every 8-10 days on the same trees.
After the harvest, for further processing, the pulp surrounding the coffee bean has to be removed, just as the so-called "silver skin" and the parchment, all of which in the coffee cherry have the function of protecting the coffee bean.
In Tanzania, this is being done making use of the "dry process". The coffee cherries are being dried in the sun in large, flat containers and as soon as the bean "rattles" inside the cherry, the cherries are being broken making use of a machine. Centrifuges are then separating the bean from the unwanted parts.
This raw coffee is being filled into sacks which are being sold at the raw coffee bean auction. In Moshi during the harvesting season there is a large weekly auction of raw coffee beans.
Even though there is consistent demand for coffee, the price for raw coffee beans, which only makes 10% of the end price for consumable coffee, is exposed to strong fluctuations on the world market. This puts at stake the existence of the small-scale coffee farmers. An alternative option is "fair trade" coffee, which guarantees a fixed purchase price and purchase quantity to the farmers, independent from the price of raw coffee beans on the world market.
The roasting and final processing only takes place at the consumer countries such as the US, Germany or Italy. The right roasting requires time and experience. Using the traditional method of drum roasting, the beans are being roasted in a rotating drum over a gas flame. From the colour of the beans, the oven's smoke and the smell, the roaster notices when the beans have the right degree of roasting.
Every delivery of coffee has to be roasted separately, as the beans of every strain and harvest behave differently when being roasted. After the roasting, the hot beans are being sieved for small particles and then chilled quickly.
October and March are the months for planting; February, harvesting of plants in lower altitudes; June harvesting of plants in higher altitudes. In December, the plants are in bloom and in February green beans are developing. During these two months, several steps of plant care have to be carried out.
Coffee Plantation at Kilimanjaro
With Coffee Farmer, Dennis, you can:
Take one-on-one lessons (also for small groups), for at least 2 hours every day, Monday to Friday. During the other hours of the day, you work on the plantation. Dennis also shows you other interesting things that have to do with coffee, such as the office of the coffee cooperative and can organize trips such as hiking in the area.
Minimum Duration: 1 week
Maximum Duration: 4 weeks
Language Requirements: English
Location: Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Accommodation: With the Coffee Farmer family
Convert to USD, GBP, CAD, AUD and other currencies
First week:
1 Person 400 EUR
2 Persons 340 EUR per person
Each extra week 140 EUR.
Price includes:
  • Accommodation with meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) at the Coffee Farmer's home
  • 5 times a week of at least 2 hours of private lessons from English speaking coffee farmers
  • Transfers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) to the Coffee Farm and back
  • Accompaniment to the farm on the first day
  • Info-PDF
  • Local SIM-Card
  • Cost for 10 seedlings of indigenous trees that we plant on the slopes of Kilimanjaro
You live with the family at the coffee farm or a neighboring family next to the plantation. Photos are available in the gallery.

Other Projects That Might Interest You:

These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.

Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Day Trips, Watersports

budgetsafaribannerAs "Budget Safari Tanzania" we are arranging cost-effective yet high-quality safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs, excursions, and watersports activities in Tanzania and Zanzibar. You will group with other World Unite! participants and further travellers.
As a World Unite! participant, you get a 15% discount on all offers of Budget Safari Tanzania. We will share a Discount Code with you that you can use with the online booking of your safari, Kilimanjaro climb, excursion or watersports activity.

Learning Swahili in Moshi!

Swahili TeacherIt is always helpful to know Swahili while doing your project here. Swahili is a relatively easy language for participants and some start to follow it within the first few lessons. You can choose the intensity of the lesson. We would, however, recommend a maximum of ten hours per week. The lessons are conducted individually; in some cases, 2-3 participants with similar levels of knowledge may be given combined lessons. The number of participants does not affect the cost of the lessons.
The cost for Swahili lessons: 1 Student: 10 EUR
Please check "Language Training Required" in the registration form and specify your desired duration (minimum 20 hours).

Travel Health Insurance

We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.

Check out our video on Moshi!

In this video, tourism intern Iris and our team member Adelina show us around Moshi Town and the surrounding areas. Adelina and Themi, two of our coordinators, introduce themselves. We also meet the volunteers Pia, who collaborates with the Social Reality Tour, and Laura in their host family. Coffee Farmer Dennis talks about coffee and we see a few shots from a Maasai Village.

Moshi at Kilimanjaro

Moshi is a town in the north of Tanzania, at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Here, you are in the middle of Africa and deal with people like the Chagga and Maasai. The city has about 150,000 inhabitants; however, it appears - like many African cities - much smaller, owing to the fact that many unplanned settlements are spread over long distances outside the city. Furthermore, the majority of the population do not have the purchasing power that would make transactions comparable to for instance a European city of this size. Nevertheless, Moshi is a relatively well-developed city and all necessities may be found here - from ATMs to specialty stores, restaurants to small supermarkets.
Moshi is the starting point of all Kilimanjaro climbs and many safaris to the Northern National Parks of Tanzania start from here. Kilimanjaro International Airport is about 40 km from Moshi. Tourism and trade of coffee and bananas have contributed to the flourishing of the city.
The city lies at an altitude of 813 m and has a year-round climate that people from moderate climates consider to be very comfortable (compared to the humid heat that often prevails on the coast or on the islands).
HIV and AIDS are the biggest problem - it is estimated that up to 16 % of the population are HIV-positive. The resulting problems are the countless orphans and street children, neglected people of retirement age and sick people, about whom no one cares because of lack of money. The other problems are poverty-related - lack of access to education, health care, infrastructure, and destruction of environmental resources such as deforestation.

Things to do in Moshi

Moshi is conveniently situated for safaris in all the Northern National Parks of Tanzania; you can travel over a weekend (Tarangire, Arusha National Park, Lake Manyara) or a multi-day tour (incl. Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation Area, Lake Eyasi, Lake Victoria, Lake Natron). The Kilimanjaro rises directly in front of your door - for a climb you need physical fitness and 5-7 days’ time.
As a day trip, you can visit the Marangu Waterfall and the village of Marangu with coffee plantations, the even higher Materuni waterfall, the Arusha National Park, a Maasai village, Lake Chala, swim in volcanic hot springs and hike on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. In Moshi, there are several cafes, restaurants, internet cafes, bars, discos, swimming pool and even an open- air cinema with karaoke.

Getting To Moshi

tanzania map
You book your flight to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). If the flights to Dar-es-Salaam (DAR) are much cheaper, you can also fly there and then book a separate connecting flight from DAR to JRO. From JRO airport, we pick you and take you to your accommodation in Moshi.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the airport even at night.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Of course you can travel around, almost all of our participants do so. In Moshi and Zanzibar, we ourselves often offer day trips, for which you can join other volunteers and interns when you travel there. We share these trips with you in our monthly subscriber list and you can book them. Participants often organize on-site travel together. In Moshi and Zanzibar, you can stay at the same low rates as our Zanzibar or Moshi participants in accommodations provided by us. If you plan to travel during your volunteering/internship period, you should seek permission in advance. We recommend that you plan your travel after your volunteering/internship. For this, you can also stay longer in your accommodation at affordable rates.
Is it safe to travel in Tanzania alone as a single female traveller?
Approximately 80% of our participants are female and many of them, only about 20 years old. Not a single instance of a serious security breach has occurred. Our coordinator will advise you on how you should conduct yourself in order to avoid problems - your dressing style, valuables, and in dealing with local men. Our preparation materials elaborate on this matter. If you follow these basic rules that apply equally to many other places, the risk in Moshi is not great.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Moshi?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Moshi, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so. Moshi is a small town, where you walk around quite a bit. In addition, there are well-known places such as the Coffee Shops, where you actually meet with other participants. We also have regular meetings with all participants and you will get a list of participants in the country at the same time, with their contact information. You need not be worried about being "alone" in Moshi, nor should you avoid contact with the locals because you spend all your time with other foreign participants.
What vaccinations do I need?
Our Info-PDF that you get as a participant gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
Where will I live?
You can find details in the tab "Accommodation".
Can I choose my accommodation?
We give you choices (Most popular!, Comfort +, Adventurer) and you can tell us if you prefer a shared accommodation or homestay; we will then seek an accommodation for you. We organise accommodation, taking into consideration the distance from your work site. However, since Moshi is not a very big city, is relatively easy to reach locations in other parts of the city by public transport ("Daladala") or by bike.
How free or bound am I in my accommodation with the host family?
With the host family, you can have your freedom, and do not need to join them during meal times or have any other obligations. If you will return late in the evening, you need to let them know in advance, so that they can unlock the doors for you (which are locked at night for security reasons). Bringing home casual acquaintances is taboo. They look to integrate our participants into their family life, but you can determine to what extent you want to be part of it.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
In Tanzania, Internet is accessed via the mobile phone networks. With smartphones, you can use the Internet. For laptops, there are USB modem sticks for about 10 EUR. There are no flat rates; you use data packets, depending on your needs. You might consume 2 GB of data in a week, which costs about 4.50 EUR. In the centers of cities (Moshi Town, Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanza, Zanzibar Town, Karatu, etc.), the connection is good, the speed is satisfactory and sufficient for Skype phone calls. In the suburbs and in the country, there is connection, but usually almost impossible or very slow and unreliable. We will provide you information on the use of mobile Internet in Tanzania. At Twiga Home, internet is available to our participants at a small additional fee.
How can I do my laundry?
In general, laundry is washed by hand in Tanzania. You can ask your landlord or host family if they have someone who can wash your clothes. Usually, someone offers that to you for a small fee. Please ask your local supervisor, what the appropriate thing to do is. You can use the washing machine at Twiga Home, even if you live elsewhere, for a small fee.
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Tanzania is a meat-eating country and Tanzanians do not usually understand that someone who could afford meat and who is not sick, volunteered to give up meat; but the host families are familiar with participants, and understand that some are vegetarians, and prepare appropriate food. In Dar-es-Salaam, there are Indian vegetarian restaurants, with a wide choice of dishes. In the market, there are a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. Special dietary needs (e.g. Vegan, allergies to certain foods) can be expressed to the host families, and many foods are available in the supermarket.
What language skills do I need?
You should be able to make yourself understood in English. The national language of Tanzania is Swahili, but knowledge of English is widespread, especially among people who have a better education or work in tourism. In everyday life, there is usually no problem to be able to communicate in English; if you should come across someone who can not speak English, you can almost immediately find someone who offers to translate in English. If you are in a social project for a longer duration, you will have to deal with people who have little or no education. For this, it is useful to acquire at least a basic knowledge of Swahili before your arrival through any book (or audio CD). You can also take basic Swahili lessons while on site. We also have vocabulary lists with useful words that can help you.

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