Here is what I knew about coffee: I liked it, especially with a side of wifi. Here's what I didn't know: it only grows at high altitudes; the beans are actually seeds, and you pick them when they turn bright red; beneath the red skin, the seed is gooey and slimy and gross, in an "ooh-cool" way; arabica coffee is pretty much only picked by hand; the seeds are stretched out across large surfaces and raked and turned over and dried and hulled. At some point, it either finds its way into a Dunkin' Donuts or is roasted over a fire, as was the case in this home in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. (The daughter of our hostess stepped in to finish the roasting for me here.)
After it had browned to our hosts' satisfaction, we took turns pounding it to dust in a mortar (among the most therapeutic of coffee rituals?) and then drank it, dark and sugary, from plastic cups on the side of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I could add that it was better than Dunkin', but that goes without saying, probably.
Tanzania's coffee-growing region is in the north of the country, with individually-owned farms scattered throughout the highlands. We were visiting the family of the owner of our hotel, the Kilimanjaro Mountain View Lodge. From the lodge or in the nearby town of Moshi, tours can be arranged to visit the coffee farms or brew your own.
*Skipped some steps here.