Friday, May 30, 2008

Camerounian Arabica

I am sipping on some quite decent coffee from Cameroun (bag pictured left), brought back by Fidelis, my geeky chum from Douala. Its French roasted in style. I close my eyes and I can almost feel the Atlantic breeze whip in at Le Touquet plage..

The Camerounians clearly know a thing or two about coffee. Meanwhile, here in Nigeria, the coffee culture is still solidly 1940's instant coffee, Nescafe if you're lucky thank you very much. I'm sure there's a colonial story which gave Nigeria Liptons, and Cameroun Cafe Vital.

Coffee and the best forms of dynamic capitalism (new ideas, start-ups, disruptive reconfigurations of the market yada yada) go hand in hand. Nescafe is not coffee. We need a change people.

There's no reason why arabica of similar quality could not be grown in the far East of Nigeria, which shares a similar terrain to the Adamoua region of Cameroun. From our recent trip to Death Mountain/Gangirwal, we saw that the tea plantation industry in the region is not exactly thriving.

When the coffee revolution starts in Nigeria (with home grown beans or otherwise), let's just make sure its not Starbucks, who have no idea how to make a decent espresso, catering as they do to the insipid American style. Better to follow the Indian model of coffee chains (such as Barista), and go home grown.

Talking about Indian coffee, check this out.


Waffarian 11:04 am  

I do not even believe that tea drinking culture cos we certainly destroy any flavour with too much milk and sugar...

so wetin go happen when we go begin drink coffee? abeg, e no go work jare!

Now, you wanna talk coffee, those Ethiopians...damn...they take hard stuff. Strong mutherfucker...brewed over fire..the communist way..hehehehehehe(you know those Eastern European countries where they boil the coffee...then you have to wait for it to settle in the bottom...who cares about coffee maker?)

anonymaus,  11:09 am  

You don't know by now that Nigeria doesn't take economic diversification very seriously.

They still haven't addressed self-sufficiency in food production for the basics (although there is no hesitation in devouring the stuff), if they haven't been serious about that for over 20 years, how do you expect them to go after niche markets in other products like coffee? Even though their next door neighbours in Cameroun can manage such a feat.(Jamaica is even at it with their Blue Mountain coffee)

The Indian link was cool, it shows how sophisticated they have become.They are now harnessing their culture and expertise to push their products forward onto the international market. (India is even known more for tea than their coffee - those guys are really trying). Their economy is diversified and robust (the same can't be said of Nigeria's, despite having millions of technically savvy people in various disciplines trained in the halls of learning around the world). Nigeria is still counting on oil and gas exports, and maybe a few other non-renewable resources, when they become exhausted what then? How disappointing.

However, where there is a will there is a way ... as they say.

Anonymous,  11:12 am  

Nescafe: my father thinks the sun rises and sets on that crap. However, I live in the US, where people think piss in a cup is coffee and they pay 5 dollars for it here at Princeton, so don't diss Nescafe o.

Anengiyefa 12:54 pm  

Hi Jeremy, I'll stick with my 1940's instant coffee if you don't mind. Its all because of a particularly bad diarrhoeal experience after I was served something by my Egyptian friends called "ahwa", sweet strong stuff, Arabic coffee, similar to Turkish coffee...Ermm, I like to stick with foods I'm familiar with. Nescafe is just fine with me thank you very much :)

Oh, and by the way, my mind tells me that a coffee revolution in Nigeria, if it does happen, is likely to be Starbucksesque :)

Emeka Okafor 1:06 pm  

Our company Caranda Fine Foods, is doing the same for premium beverages. It can be done let's all work at it rather than complain...

Anonymous,  2:06 pm  

Interesting... I watched a manu dibango interview this weekend where he said he paid for his schooling in paris with 3kg of coffee. This was post world war 1 (or 2?) France and Cameroonian coffee was apparently the best thing since sliced bread....

Sandrine 2:32 pm  

Cafeine works on the body like adrenaline (epinephrine).If you are sensitive, you have to stay away from expresso, Arabic coffee and Turkish coffee (or anything concentrated).However you may drink others, you don't have to stick with Nescafe.
Anon 11:12
Not everybody in the US drink weak coffee.Ever been in Miami?
What is yours and Bibi favorite brand?

anengiyefa,  3:11 pm  

Sandrine, I love Nescafe. Thanks for your advice though.

Loomnie 4:33 pm  

Waffarian, I bought some really nice coffee from a trip to Portugal - those guys don't have anything like the normal American coffee, espresso is what they call Cafe - and since I don't have a coffee maker around here I simply pour hot water over it in my mug and wait for it to settle. Believe me, it is really nice.

Nescafe is really horrible. I never know when I have had enough of it....

And about the whole capitalist revolution blah blah blah... ever heard something called resource curse?

Hassan,  4:57 pm  

A Camerounian friend brought us the Camerounian coffee while in Zaria and I noticed then that it tastes nicer and stronger than Nescafe. I usually take it so that I could read for longer hours at night.

Since leaving Zaria, I have gone back to Nescafe for the simple fact that, it's readily available and everywhere. Their distribution and marketing is great! In Nigeria, when you think of coffee, you think of Nescafe!

We can do what the Camerounians are doing. It's just that the will is not there yet but don't write us off just yet.And off course, we need to address power first. Seek you first constant power supply and every other thing shall follow.

Nkem 5:11 pm  

I don't drink tea - too blandly British. It's basically coloured water. I don't drink coffee because, despite all my other toxic consumptions, my body is a temple. So I drink hot chocolate, because it tastes good, and mostly comes from West Africa.

I hope we never have a tea or coffee culture. Damn the neocolonialists!

Waffarian 5:27 pm  

@loomnie: No, no! you are doing it all have to cook it slowly until it "brews" over...then wait for it to settle...get a small pot so u can keep using it...

and come back and tell me what you think....

Anonymous,  9:00 pm  

Nothing wrong with Nescafe and definitely nothing wrong with using too much sugar and cream with your tea either. To each his own, I particularly like my Dunkin Donuts coffee in the morning and I cannot bear the brew at Starbucks unless it a white mocha.

yemisi ogbe 9:30 pm  

Incidentally one of the best coffees I've ever had was given to my mother in Burundi. Having said that Jeremy, you are a snob.

lolaojiks 12:43 am  

Not a fan of coffee but your comment about Le Touquet brought back fond memories.

My favourite beach in Europe to date.

Kayode Muyibi 4:08 am  

What about Uganda as a model? Their coffees are supposedly the best if I am not mistaken?

The Pseudo-Independent 5:40 pm  

A quantum leap? In the vernacular, I think we need more eccentric Nigerians! Jeremy great blog you have here. Pity we are yet to meet

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