November 2015 - Burka Estate, Tanzania

The Burka Estate is located in the town of Arusha in the Arumeru district in northern Tanzania, on the lower slopes of Mount Meru (which rises to a whopping 4,565 metres). Arusha town centre is approximately 8 kilometres from the coffee estates, but over recent years the urban sprawl has meant that the town has expanded up to the borders of the estates.

The farm, Burka, was founded in 1899 by a German settler (a Mr Rahn), who decided to plant coffee to send back to his native Germany. Burka covers 1,437 acres, of which 870 acres are planted with coffee. The neighbouring estate, Selian, is also owned by the same group.

The estates have about 200 permanent staff, as well as 200 daily, causal staff; however, in the peak of the harvest season, there can be up to 5,000 staff involved in picking and processing. All permanent staff are provided with housing on the estates (in four different camps), and the minimum salary is set at 20% above the government minimum requirement. Staff have social security and labour union membership included in their contracts, and an estate credit union also offers loans and advice for education, health and house construction.

Each estate has its own nursery which educates over 100 children, and two primary schools also cater for over 600 children who come from the estate workers' families and the neighbouring communities. An on-site health centre with estate nurse and dispensary is available to meet the needs of all staff, and the estate has its own ambulance. It also has shops, sports facilities, churches and a mosque.

Regular inter-estate and inter-camp football and netball matches occur, along with staff BBQs and other holiday celebrations. Workers are supplied with free firewood from stumped coffee trees, and fruit and nut trees are grown around the staff villages.

For their naturally processed coffees ripe cherries are delivered to the mill within six hours of being picked. They are sorted and hand-picked, and then placed onto raised African drying beds. The drying period generally lasts for 2–3 weeks, until the moisture level in the coffee reaches 12% or lower, with regular turning, particularly in the first 7 days to ensure even rates of drying. Parchment is transported to Moshi for milling and bagging, and then to Dar Es Salaam for export. The waste cherry pulp is mixed with worms to produce organic fertiliser, which is then re-used on the estates.

For their fully washed coffees Ripe cherries are delivered to mill within 6 hours of picking, where cherries are graded, sorted, de-pulped and then fermented underwater for between 24-36 hours, depending on temperature, humidity and other factors. Burka has a natural spring which supplies the wet mill, which is then recirculated before disposal into seepage pits, constructed wetlands and settlement ponds. Selian mil draws its water from boreholes, which is then recirculated as above. The waste cherry pulp is mixed with worms and produce organic fertiliser, which is then re-use don the estates. Parchment is then sorted and thoroughly rinsed in washing channels, and placed onto raised African drying tables. The drying period generally lasts for 5-7 days, until moisture level reaches 12% or lower, with regular turning, particularly in the first 48 hours to ensure even rates of drying. Parchment is transported to Moshi for milling and bagging, and then to Dar Es Salaam for export.

Burka has its own cupping lab on site, and samples of each day’s lot are cupped and assessed for quality. As I mentioned above, this is the second season natural production at Burka and you should start getting excited about what they're up to behind the scenes; they're experimenting with various washed processing methods, and also with different patio vs. raised bed drying methods, with different turning rates.

We have currently have 4 coffees available from the Burka estate...

For the month of November you can enjoy a delicious 15% off any 1 (or all!) of these coffees by entering the discount code "TanzaniaBurka" in the discount code box and clicking apply during the checkout process.

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