Tanzania: AB Sambewe, Fully Washed, Kent
In the cup: Big and sparkly mouthfeel, juicy berry like acidity, lightweight. Super soft and sweet.
Cupping Score: 87
Mouthfeel: Big, sparkly.
Process: Fully Washed
Producer: Sambewe Farmers Group
Altitude: 1600-1800 meters above sea level
Region: Mbozi (Southern Tanzania)
Sambewe is a group of 344 farmers who were established as an Agriculture Marketing Cooperative Society (AMCOS) in 2007. They produce about 441 bags per year. The Mbozi District Council provided them with a Penagos machine in 2013, which enabled them to start pulping their coffees in order to produce better quality. In 2018, the government ruled that formally organised Farmer Groups (FG) would no longer be permitted, and instead they would become part of a larger AMCOS. Hence The Sambewe AMCOS was created by the Lungwa FG, Nansama FG, Sambewe FG and Mandelewo FG.
The coffee is fully washed with water from Sambewe Pond, fermented in tanks, graded based on density, soaked in tanks and dried on raised beds. The parchment is then hand-picked on the drying tables to remove defects.
Coop chairman name: Andason Mwangoya
Coop supervisor name: Geofrey Mpigo
We’ve been working with Ibero for several years, a large trading company under the Neuman group umbrella. When the Coffee Authority of Tanzania in the year of 2018 decided to prohibit farmers to do direct export through representative companies without holding their own export license, Ibero chose to stay and adapt to the situation. The Tanzanian coffee authorities decided to follow the Ethiopian model by creating a centralised auction system that removes exclusivity and partial traceability, and gives any buyer in the world access to the coffee. They hoped that it would drive buyers to compete for the best lots and increase the final price, giving more back to the farmers. What the government didn’t realise was that, by changing the rules this way, no export company would benefit from the investments made on farm or station level. Furthermore, it was too expensive for farmers to hold their own export license, hence buyers still had to rely on exporters to consolidate shipments which meant that going through the auction was inevitable. As a result of the lack of investment, farmers were not able to match the inputs needed, which in the long run would lowered the yield and quality. For many of the largest commercial roasters in the world, Tanzanian coffee could be substituted for coffee from other countries, and that’s what happened.
Ibero on the other hand, saw this as an opportunity as few exporters were left in the country. They adapted to the new rules, offered to split the cost of investment in the farms and stations 50/50 with their partner AMCOS, and started buying AMCOS specific lots at the auction. This is how we have been securing some of the best Tanzanian lots we have ever tasted.
Many of the AMCOS are great simply due to their location in Mbeya, and they build on this potential quality by investing in better systems and protocols. To maintain quality standards, Ibero has invested in eight Penagos pulpers that will go to eight of the largest AMCOS in the region. This will enable the stations to use less of the already scarce water and create a cleaner, more transparent coffee.
Every day of production the local team differentiates the coffee destined for the improved and better quality lots (Grade 1) from the normal preparation for Grade 2 and Grade 3. Flotation systems separate some of the coffees on-site for better performance. These coffees are assigned a quality team to carefully tend to their processing. They generally do lot separation based on 150 bags of parchment, equal to 100 bags of greens, but they also do smaller lot sizes, especially for Grade 1. The coffees are separated according to the days and areas of harvest as well as by preparation.
There are 344 smallholder farmers who deliver small quantities of cherries to the AMCOS, or to collection centers in nearby villages. The average farm size for producers delivering to the Sambewe washing station is half to two hectares. These mid-land dry farms have clay loam soil and are organic by default. Organic compost is becoming more common, pruning is less common. A farmer can typically have fewer than 1000 trees per hectare, and one tree typically produces a quantity of cherries equal to less than 100 - 200 grams of green coffee.