What is Malawi Coffee? Your Guide to This African Bean

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Coffee connoisseurs have very high regard for African coffee beans. After all, the African country of Ethiopia happens to be the birthplace of coffee.

While Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia remain the world’s top three coffee producers, Malawi coffee growers are slowly making a name for their beans.

So, what is Malawi coffee? Learn more about this fascinating African coffee bean in this helpful guide.

malawi coffee beans
Image by ILRI via Flickr

An Overview of the Malawi Coffee Industry

Malawi’s landlocked geography translates to an agriculture-based economy. Farmers and other agricultural workers drive more than 90 percent of the country’s economy, with 88% coming from export revenues.

The country produces close to 1.5 million metric tons of Arabica coffee beans every year, the majority of which it exports to the UK, South Africa, Germany, and Switzerland. 

Coffee growers flock to the fields from April to September for the annual harvest. Coffee plantations dot the Malawi landscape at an elevation of 1,000 to 2,500 meters above sea level. The majority of these coffee plantations are in the country’s northern region because of their suitability for growing the beans.

The Malawi coffee industry comprises three to four thousand smallholder farmers, organized into cooperatives. These small farmers’ groups include the Misuku, Phoko, Ntchisi East, Viphya North, South East Mzimba, and Nkhatabay Highlands. 

Coffee Processing II
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Coffee Beans from the Warm Heart of Africa

Coffee experts say that Malawi coffee beans are one of the continent’s great-tasting varieties. If you want the highest quality coffee beans from Malawi, you may have to pick products grown and harvested at higher altitudes. 

Scottish coffee producers introduced Arabica beans in Malawi in the 1870s. Over the decades, local farmers brought the Agara, Cattura, Nyika, Catimor 128, SI 28, and Geisha coffee varieties from Ethiopia. 

Malawi coffee has an interesting aroma profile, with many coffee connoisseurs describing its scent as that of jasmine, rose, and bergamot.  The flavor profile is also exciting, coating the palate with hints of papaya, guava, mango, honeysuckle, and other exotic fruits.

In general, Malawi coffee beans have a natural sweetness, complete with flowery and fruity notes that make for an exciting cup. 

Some coffee drinkers say it cannot compete with Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee beans. However, everyone has a say about which coffee is best. You have to try Malawi coffee first before making a decisive score. 

Regardless, people who prefer organic produce will love Malawi coffee. Farmers do not use synthetic products in cultivating and growing their crops. You can feel more confident about the quality and safety of each coffee sip you make.

Farmers always harvest the coffee beans by hand, allowing them to pick only the ripe berries. If you want to know how Malawi farmers and their families harvest their coffee beans, you may want to check out this video by Seibo Japan. 

Organizations Supporting Malawi Coffee Growers

Two organizations are crucial in ensuring the success of Malawi’s coffee farmers. Mzuzu Coffee is Malawi’s union of coffee farmers, providing decent accommodation, adequate warmth, food security, and education. It might surprise you to learn that 25% of union members are women.

Warm Hearts Club is another organization dedicated to supporting Malawi farmers. This non-profit organization encourages fair coffee trade and organic coffee cultivation. It helps farmers export their coffee beans to the Japanese market, ensuring the freshest and highest quality Malawi coffee for the Land of the Rising Sun.

malawi coffee in a cup
Malawi coffee in a cup | Image by Richard via Flckr

Conclusion

Malawi coffee is an Arabica coffee bean, although some farms grow Geisha varietals. It is a sweet coffee with a rich and smooth flavor and a full body. Your coffee can have hints of citrusy and chocolatey goodness, while filling your nose with the fragrant aromas of flowers.

If you are tired of the usual coffee, you might want to give Malawi’s national pride a try.

Also Read: What is Barako Coffee?

References

 

Cuppabean
Charles is the author and managing editor of Cuppabean.com. A self-admitted coffee addict, he drinks 2-4 cups of coffee a day to get his fix. In the morning, you'll often find him brewing his freshly grounded arabica coffee beans on his french press coffee. Read more about the site here.
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