Coffee Origins: Malawi

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
malawi

Malawi? Coffee is believed to have been introduced to Malawi in the late 1800s. According to one report, John Buchanan, a Scottish missionary, introduced a single tree from the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens to the nation in 1878. It began in southern Malawi’s Blantyre district, and by 1900, annual coffee production had reached 1,000 tonnes (1,100 tons).

malawi

Despite its promising start, coffee output soon fell due to a mix of poor soil management, pests and illnesses, and competition from Brazil’s increasingly dominant production.
Because the country was under British colonial administration for most of the first half of the twentieth century, there was little African ownership of the huge coffee farms. The cooperative movement, on the other hand, began in 1946, and coffee production exploded in the 1950s. All of the cooperatives were disbanded in 1971 owing to political meddling, despite the fact that they appeared to be successful. Malawi’s coffee output peaked in the 1990s at 7,000 tons (7,700 tons) per year but has since dropped to roughly 1,500 tons (1,650 tons) per year.

Malawi has developed a robust agricultural export industry despite its landlocked status. Some attribute the success of coffee to the lack of government intervention in export, which allows direct relationships between sellers and purchasers. For a long time, though, quality was not a priority. Grading used to be a very simple system of Grade 1 and Grade 2, yet there has been a shift in recent years to the AA-style grading system that is used throughout Africa.

The coffee varietals are grown in Malawi surely span the gamut. A large number of Geisha varieties have been planted, the same kind that has sparked so much attention in Central America. However, Catimor, a disease-resistant cultivar with generally lesser quality, is widely available throughout the country.

Coffee is grown on large-scale commercial estates in the south of Malawi, and by smallholder farmers in the center and northern regions. As a result, coffees can be traced back to a single farm or a big group of growers. In general, both should be able to provide great coffee.

GROWING REGIONS

Population: 18,090,000

Number of 60kg (132lb) bags in 2016: 18,000

Coffees from Malawi are rarely into ed by their regions, and the regions themselves could be considered as de ned pockets of coffee growing, rather than de table areas with distinct characteristics determined by the local terroir and microclimate.

CHITIPA DISTRICT

This area has a reputation for growing some of the best coffee in Malawi. It is close to the Songwe River, which provides a natural border between Malawi and Tanzania to the north.

This area is home to the large Misuku Hills Cooperative.

Altitude: 1,700–2,000m (5,600–6,600ft)
Harvest: April–September
Varieties: Agaro, Geisha, Catimor, Mundo Novo, Caturra

RUMPHI DISTRICT

This area is located in the north of the country, close to Lake Malawi in the eastern part of the Nyika National Park. There are several areas here with clusters of producers, such as Chakak, Mphachi, Salawe, Junji, and VunguVungu. The Phoca Hills and Viphya North cooperatives are located here.

Altitude: 1,200–2,500m (3,900–8,100ft)
Harvest: April–September
Varieties: Agaro, Geisha, Catimor, Mundo Novo, Caturra

NORTH VIPHYA

This region covers part of the North Viphya Plateau, which is separated from Nkhata Bay Highlands by the Lizunkhumi river valley.

Altitude:                                 1,200–1,500m (3,900–4,900ft)

Harvest:                                  April–September

Varieties:                                   Agaro, Geisha, Catimor, Mundo Novo, Caturra

SOUTHEAST MZIMBA

This region is named for the city of Mzimba, and there are several valleys and river systems running through it.

Altitude:                                 1,200–1,700m (3,900–5,600ft)

Harvest:                                  April–September

Varieties:                                   Agaro, Geisha, Catimor, Mundo Novo, Caturra

NKHATA BAY HIGHLANDS

This region is just to the east of the regional capital city of Mzuzu.

Altitude: 1,000–2,000m (3,300–6,600ft)
Harvest: April–September
Varieties: Agaro, Geisha, Catimor, Mundo Novo, Caturra

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