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Surrounded by Coffee, Not a Sip in Sight

  • 06/02/08
  • Paul

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.

About the Author

Paul began with AWF based in Nairobi for a year, before moving to Washington DC. 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 received his B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. He is a member of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leadership initiative and is working on a conservation campaign to combat the illegal trade of Asian pangolins. Paul enjoys photography, travel, hikes in the woods, music, and nyama choma.

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