Surrounded by Coffee, Not a Sip in Sight

About the Author

Paul Thomson worked with African Wildlife Foundation in Nairobi for a year before moving to Washington D.C. Paul has worked at the Madrid Aquarium and at the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands outside San Francisco. He was born in New Zealand but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul… More

I've been in Nyeri for a few days now, and I haven't had a single cup of coffee! I came here expecting to be permanently buzzing from a steady regime of coffee drinking. But nope, not one cup.

It gets stranger: most of the farmers have never even tried their own coffee. But before I could feel too sorry for them they reassured me that - like most Kenyans - they are tea drinkers, and they're happy to sip their chai while their coffee beans are enjoyed elsewhere around the globe.

But they are curious. So Robert Thuo, AWF's Agronomist who oversees the AWF-Starbucks "Coffee for Conservation" project, has a plan. In conjunction with Starbucks, Kenyatta University, and other partners, AWF is going to open a coffee lab which will enable the farmers to sample the coffee they grow.

Robert Thuo (left), AWF's Agronomist, sorts coffee cherries with one of the farmers.

The lab will serve as a "cupping" station, where coffee will be tested for quality and be graded. Kenyatta University, which is providing the space, can offer hands-on courses in coffee agronomy.

And the farmers will finally get to taste their product and see what all the buzz is about.