Zambia coffee is famous the world over for providing a delicious break in your day. But what do you actually know about this brew? Coffee around the world differs so much, and Zambian blends and brews are no exception.
What Is The History Of Zambia Coffee?
Coffee farms didn’t make their way to Zambia very early on. It was in the middle of the 20th century the first coffee cultivar seeds landed in the country from Kenya and Tanzania. At this point, Zambia coffee was already big business in several parts of the world.
In the 1970s, a lot more research into ways to boost the production of coffee in Zambia started. It was believed that rain-fed fields would thrive in the area. With the hopes of making all this possible, small-scale coffee farmers started moving into the area and the development of the Zambia coffee market took off.
By the 1980s, the International Coffee Organisation gave Zambia a quota which allowed them to export 350 tonnes of its coffee. In 1985, it became official and Zambia became the sole exporter of Zambia coffee.
How Much Coffee Is Produced In Zambia Per Year?
Coffee production in Zambia dipped by 0.29 % from 6,555 tonnes in 2019 to 6,536 tonnes in 2020. Since the 0.55 % upward trend in 2018, coffee production decreased by 0.14 % in 2020.
What Kind Of Coffee Is Grown In Zambia?
It’s likely that you’ve heard of the two kinds of coffee grown in the province of Zambia. Robusta and Arabica coffee beans are both popular in this area however Arabica, the traditional African organic coffee, is most popular in this area of the world. Here’s a bit of information on both of these amazing types of coffee beans.
The Coffea arabica plant originated in Ethiopia. Arabica beans are very popular all over the world and are responsible for well over half the cups of coffee drank worldwide. Arabica coffee has a vast range of tastes. This is one of the reasons so many individuals love to drink it. You can certainly find a soft-sweet Arabica coffee or one with more kick as well as a sharp-tangy taste.
Arabica coffee is very difficult to produce. This makes it one of the more expensive coffees around the world. In Zambia or other regions where Arabica is grown, particular conditions are required to grow a great bean.
Subtropical climes are best suited for Arabica bean growth. In addition, farmers need rich soil, sun, shade, and lots of moisture. Perhaps the most important thing that is needed to grow Arabica beans, however, is a high elevation. This is where the mountains of Zambia play a role.
While not as commonplace in Zambia, you’ll still discover Robusta coffee beans grown here. Robusta is manufactured from the Coffea canephora plant which originates in Africa. Mostly utilised in instant coffees and espressos, Robusta is known for having a far more bitter taste as opposed to other coffees. Some people compare the taste of Robusta to an oatmeal-type taste which is slightly harsh. Prior to the roasting, these beans might give off a slight peanut smell.
Robusta coffee beans may be considered more resilient as opposed to Arabica beans. These plants are able to grow at lower altitudes, aren’t very prone to attacks by pests, and generate higher yields per acre at a decently low production cost.
The biggest drawback to Robusta plants is the technique utilised to grow them. Mono-cropping, which is the process of utilising the same land for the same plant yearly, is very harsh on the environment. Considering that these plants may be grown almost anywhere, bigger companies are known for clearing large areas of the rainforest for more fields that they can harvest. After years and years of these practices, the soil may be left unusable owing to the lack of nutrients left.
What Does Zambia Coffee Taste Like?
Zambian coffees offer a balanced flavour profile together with moderate complexity and body. It’s less “bright and acidic” as opposed to other East African coffees, offering a nice alternative. And the methods of production are quite different as well, with much of the production coming from bigger, well-organised operations.
How Do Zambians Make Coffee?
However you decide to prepare for coffee, the best result is attained through grinding the coffee freshly just before you brew it. So our suggestion is that you invest in a grinder if you love your Zambian coffee!
Choose the grind in accordance with the brewing method, finer for espresso, medium for filtered and coarser for French press. Once opened, store the Zambia coffee in a foil bag in an airtight container at room temperature (or if you have a cold room, this will do in the Zambian hot season as well). You are able to freeze the beans, however not the ground coffee.
What Is Zambia Anaerobic Coffee?
Anaerobic fermentation is a processing method which was borrowed from the wine industry. When we’re talking about wine, anaerobic fermentation is where the whole grapes are fermented for a few days without direct contact with oxygen before mashing into grape juice for fermentation.
What Are The Best Zambia Coffee Brands To Try Right Now?
Without a doubt, one of the best Zambian coffee brands is Munali Coffee.
Their coffee cherries are harvested by hand, via a process called selective picking, from April to September, which is Zambia’s dry season. The cherries need to be bright red, glossy and firm. Once gathered, the coffee cherries need to be processed immediately.
The pulping machinery is responsible for the red skin from the two coffee beans inside each of the cherries. The pulp is then collected, composted and reused as an ecological fertiliser.
Wet processing is responsible for removing the red skin and fleshy pulp material via a process called pulping. After this, the beans enter into the fermentation box where the natural process activates a series of chemical reactions that enhance the flavour quality of the roasted coffee.
The wet beans dry gradually down to 10 – 11% humidity. Workers at the coffee farm will hand distribute these on the patio (drying floor). This process takes between one and two weeks. The beans need to be raked many times to allow them to dry evenly.
The sun-dried beans – which are now called “parchment” – are put in bags and taken to the warehouse. After this, the machine removes the parchment and silver skin from each and every single bean. This renders a green bean quite suitable for roasting. Grading gourmet-quality coffees by size, shape, density and colour is the next step.
The final stage sees green beans roasted to perfection in either a light, medium or Espresso roast.
There you have it! A whistle-stop tour of everything that you need to know about Zambian coffee. The next time you see coffee from Zambia in your local supermarket, give it a try.