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Coffee, from Seed to Cup

One of the most memorable experiences I've had in my travels was a day spent going through each step of the coffee production process. To be honest, I don't even like coffee! But did you know it is the #2 commodity in the world (behind oil) in terms of dollars spent? I didn't until just recently, but it makes me appreciate how special this opportunity was to learn about such an important part of the global economy. And it was fun.

Tanzania, especially in the Kilimanjaro region, is covered with small-scale coffee farms. Many of these farms have been in families for generations, and production methods remain relatively unchanged.

See if you can find a local farmer willing to give you a tour and let you participate in the process from start to finish. Plant a tree, then move to another tree to pick the beans. Once the beans are picked you run them through the hand-powered machine pictured above and remove the skin.

After the skin is gone you have to leave the bare seed out to dry. This can take over a week, so hopefully someone nearby has some beans that are already dried! Once they are dry, you crush the outer shell off so only the inner bean is left. Now you just have to clean it, roast it, and drink it. If you are there the right time of year (July is usually good) you may actually be able to participate in the entire process.

Either way, it's an amazing experience and a great cup of coffee!

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