Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Getting ready for East Africa

The countdown is on -- 12 days until I depart for Tanzania and Kenya. I'll fly to Tanzania first, for 3 days at the East African Fine Coffee Association (EAFCA) trade show and conference in Arusha. This is supposedly "the place" to meet the East African traders, exporters, growers and everyone interested in East African coffee from around the world. Looking forward to the "coffee safari" that will take us to visit Tanzanian coffee farms and washing stations.

I'll take the short flight from Tanzania's Kilimanjaro airport to Nairobi on Feb. 19th and this will be my first time in Kenya! I'll spend the night at the Methodist Guest House and then the next morning, I get to do a "trek" out of Nairobi and through the bush to the "country", in particular, a town named Meru. Here I'll be meeting up with a group of 17 others from my church. We're a mixed bag group -- 5 teenagers, a physician, a pastor, 2 college professors, a successful IT entrepreneur, an organizational strategy consultant, several retired people and me -- a coffee importer/broker with an international development background. What can we offer to a high school in Meru? I don't honestly know. But I'm told we will learn to think on our feet and it will be appreciated. Watch this space. I plan to blog about it!

During the week in Meru, there's a plan that I'll visit the Riankune cooperative and mill. That will be fantastic if that works out. I would love to meet the growers from who Artisan Coffee Imports has already purchased coffee and establish an on-going relationship. One that is mutually beneficial and lasting.

At the end of the trip, Feb. 28th, I'm looking forward to visiting Dorman's in Nairobi and, you guessed it, another coffee farm. This time one in the Nairobi region.

Trying to figure out what to pack. It has to be very little. I've been warned that the minibuses for the group I'm with in Meru have very little luggage space.

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