“Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and as sweet as love,” the Turkish proverb goes. No need to comb through the ends of the Earth to find the intoxicating drink as it is meant to be. Here are five sites where coffee is grown… and properly.
- Harrar, Ethiopia. (Harrar Coffee) The local blend with hints of chocolate and mocha can be savoured in this walled town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A haven for poets during the 16th century, this hilltop settlement is known as the fourth holiest city of Islam. After a fortifying drink, travellers can explore 82 mosques, Moorish castles, and the Rimbaud museum, which was the French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s home. Here the “infant Shakespeare”, as Victor Hugo put it, became a merchant after taking in an Ethiopian mistress, and struck a friendship with the resident governor.
- Mount Kenya, Kenya. (Kenya Coffee) Described as winy and earthy, is it any wonder that such bold flavours come from the soil of an extinct volcano believed to be the home of the deity of life and death? According to the tradition of the ethnic group Kikuyu, Ngai the Supreme Being made the tribe flourish from this very summit. Snow-capped, Mount Kenya is dotted by forests mid-mountain, where bamboo clusters meet juniper trees. Leopards, elephants, and antelopes make their homes here. The Mount Kenya National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, popular to climbers and game-watchers.
- Sumatra, Indonesia. (Sumatra Coffee) Floral and fruity hints make their way into this worldwide preference, described as gentle, rich, and spicy. Its name comes from the Sanskrit term for “Island of Gold” because of the region’s abundant deposits. Fertile, and teeming with coal, oil, and coffee as well, it is the habitat for the largest individual flower on Earth, rafflesia arnoldii, which can reach up to a metre in diameter. The titan arum, which shares the rafflesia’s nickname “corpse flower” (because of their stench) also flourishes here, the largest “unbranched” flower group on Earth. It can reach up to three metres in circumference.
- Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. (Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee) Made from “coffee cherries” whose taste tantalises the tongue long after each sip, it is said that this drink holds the essence of “true coffee”. It is harvested from Africa’s highest peak, which Ernest Hemingway even wrote about in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Those who seek to conquer its pinnacle can experience all four seasons throughout the excursion, depending on the zone they’re in. The Kilimanjaro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the mysterious Abbot’s duiker – a small, nocturnal antelope – lurks.
- Andes, Colombia. (Colombian Supremo Coffee) With a scent as heady as the wine traces found in it, the Supremo is immensely admired all over the world. The Andes Mountain’s moisture and altitude yield copious coffee crops, and its mines are a treasure trove of coal, salt, gold, and emeralds. Children will enjoy a new twist to Disneyland – a coffee-themed amusement park called “Parque National del Café”, with a Log Ride, a Roller Coaster, and the “Show del Café” cabaret. There is a museum dedicated to the precious bean produce as well, and visitors can have a steaming mug while taking in the view of the plantations.