The Burka Coffee Estate is located on the outskirts of Arusha national park. It's on the leeward side of Mount Meru, which is just 80 kilometres west of Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak.
Burka Coffee Estate was founded in 1899 by German settlers. The neighbouring Selian Estate was established in 1910 and acquired by Burka in 1991. Arusha town centre is approximately 8 kilometres from the estates, but over recent years the urban sprawl has meant that the town has expanded up to the borders of the estates.
The first coffee trees were planted in 1918 and now number some 1.3 million trees, and are mostly shade-grown varietals. There are 314 acres reserved for forest, and a further 250 acres reserved for natural grasslands.
The estates have about 200 permanent staff as well as 200 daily casual 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, sport facilities, churches, and a mosque.
Regular inter-estate and inter-camp football & netball matches occur, along with staff BBQs and other holiday celebrations. Workers are supplied with free firewood from stumped coffee trees, and fruit & nut trees are grown around the staff villages.