Today’s coffee hails from the Shiwanda Estate, a historic Tanzanian estate that was revived in 1998 and is located in Mbozi, in Southern Tanzania. The estate is approximately 1,300 acres; 300 of which is used to cultivate coffee. Coffee from the Shiwanda Estate placed 2nd in the Tanzania Taste of Harvest in 2007.
The estate uses the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) varietals. TACRI is committed to improving coffee varietal quality and diversity in Tanzania and helping to revive the Tanzanian coffee industry.
Distances in Tanzania are vast – there’s almost 1000 kms between coffee producing regions in the North and in the South, same for East and West. The altitudes are up to almost 2000 MASL in many places. 90% of coffee producers are smallholder farmers, owning between 0.5 to 3 hectares, and less than 10% of the coffees are grown at estates. Mbeya/Mbozi and Mbinga in total is close to 50% of production
Similar to Kenya, coffee came with the French missionaries in the late 1800s and was planted around Kilimanjaro for the most part. In Tanzania, with its Indian influence, the Indian Kent varieties came from Mysore in the 1920s. In general, there are two varieties widely used today—the Bourbon-descended N39 hybrid and the Kent hybrid KP432, as well as Kent varieties K7 and K9.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Tanzania Shiwanda Estate, from Bodka Coffee Company in Emelle, Alabama. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Mbozi, Mbeya, Tanzania
farm: Shiwanda Estate
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1500 meters above sea level
process: fully wahed, raised bed dried
method: Hario V60
grind: 18, Preciso
coffee: 32 g
water: 500 mL
pour: 2:30 concentric pulse pour
The aroma of the Tanzania Shiwanda Estate is really interesting—complex and dynamic with a restrained bittersweetness and fruit and floral nuances; chocolate, honey, cherry cola, lemon zest, lilac, and assam tea leaf play.
My first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew present my palate with a big, full-bodied coffee that is deep, lush, and complex. What’s really unique about this coffee is the two extremes at which both the flavor profile and texture profile function; it has some really heavy flavors of bittersweet dark chocolate, honey, lush malty soil, silky plum wine, and a somewhat gritty earthiness that anchor it, but it also possesses light, airy, and perfumed floral and tea leaf aromatics (lilac, violet, assam golden tip) that flutter in over the top. There is a touch of roast here up front, but it actually complements the flavor profile well, adding another dimension to this coffee’s overall complexity.
There isn’t really much a middle ground between these two extremes until the cup cools off and the bottom practically drops out.
The closer to room temperature the coffee gets, the lighter and livelier it becomes; its big, full- and heavy-bodied notes dissipate a bit and light, juicy fruits take over the cup: cherry liqueur, Fuji apple, and a zesty lemon rind acidity that lingers, lifting a bit in the finish to reveal an aftertaste of brown sugar, cinnamon, and almond.
Full body; winy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; slightly dry finish.
Bodka Coffee Company’s Tanzania Shiwanda Estate is a coffee that, I have to confess, took me by surprise. I was expecting this coffee to be a full-bodied, big-flavored, bawdy, and boisterous affair; instead, I got a coffee that was, indeed, full-bodied, but also elegant, intricate, and complex.
It was a strange dichotomy drinking a coffee that was so full-bodied but so delicately nuanced.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.