Exploring new supply chains in Tanzania
Tanzania shares borders with Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya - and though Tanzania is the largest and most central of these four countries, it remains much less represented on most North American coffee menus. For years, our menu was no exception! With our strong ties to Burundi, Rwanda and Ethiopia, Tanzanian coffees resisted competitive relevance until the spring of 2019 - when shipping delays from Ethiopia caused an unexpected gap on our early summer menu. Tanzania tends to export a bit later than Rwanda/Burundi (depending on which region), but earlier than Ethiopia, so this was a logical fix for our situation at that time. As our primary importing partners working in this region, we reached out to Crop to Cup who were quite enthusiastic about their work in Tanzania, and happily matched us with Mringa, a lot produced on a medium-sized woman-owned estate from the northern part of the country.
With this year's Iyenga, which comes from the southern part of Tanzania, we're representing another Tanzanian coffee!
Iyenga is an AMCOS (Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society) in southern Tanzania, comprised of 193 registered members, with just over 500 farmers contributing cherries. The majority of their farms are between one and two hectares, with none larger than five.
Iyenga’s management board is elected by its members, and has demonstrated agile, diligent management through its collection services, water management, and certainly cup quality. In 2019, two of Iyenga’s coffees were winners in Tanzania’s Taste of Harvest Competition.
Though this is our first time purchasing from Iyenga, it is our second year featuring Tanzanian coffee sourced through our importing partners, Crop to Cup.
Last year, when we learned that some of our other coffees would arrive slightly behind schedule, we saw an opportunity to fill a gap in our menu with a Tanzanian offering from a medium-sized, woman-owned estate in the northern part of the country. That coffee served us well, and it also exposed us to Crop to Cup’s longer-term ambitions in that country, and how they could potentially align even better with our values. And so this year, representing a small-scale cooperative in a part of the country with a more emergent coffee sector, we proudly envision southern Tanzania becoming a sustaining feature on our menu. This past season, Iyenga received new drying beds, partially financed by Crop to Cup. In the years ahead, they hope to improve their means of managing water scarcity by creating a rainwater reservoir.
In the cup, Iyenga is both bright and balanced, with an elegance that nicely suits it to both our single-origin menu and our blend, where it’s been contributing juiciness and vibrance since early June. On its own, we taste white wine, chamomile, and honeydew. Though Tanzania first joined our menu as a short-term test-run we now expect it to be a sustaining part of our late spring and early summer lineups, bridging the space between Rwandans and Ethiopians, and brightening up the summer rendition of our Blend Saisonnier as well.