About us - Kifaru Coffee
rhino africa
About Kifaru Coffee

A Coffee as valuable as its origin

Fertile volcanic soils at an altitude of up to 1,800 meters enable us to grow a coffee that is as unique as the black rhino living inside the NgoroNgoro Crater. That is why the crater’s iconic animal graces our logo, and we have named our coffee after it. Since protecting nature and supporting the people living here is among our top priorities, we have had our farm Rainforest Alliance certified. At Kifaru Coffee we understand and strive to live up to the special responsibility that comes with working in the land of the black rhino, called Kifaru in Swahili. It is a constant reminder for us to be diligent in protecting the earth’s species and natural resources.

Brand Differentiation

Kifaru Coffee and the green beans

Our farm Shangri-La Estate sells its green beans under the NgoroNgoro Mountain Coffee brand, while our Danish firm Kifaru Coffee Aps sells the roasted coffee under the Kifaru Coffee brand.

From bean to cup

Our coffee varieties and how they are produced

At our farm Shangri-La Estate, the farm factory lies surrounded by coffee fields. To provide shade for our coffee trees, we have replanted ancient rainforest trees such as the Cordia Africana species and the umbrella acacia trees. The coffee berries we harvest to produce our high-quality premium coffee grow on nearly 400,000 coffee trees, divided into different blocks of coffee.

The majority of the farmland of Shangri-La Estate is dedicated to the chocolate and nutty-tasting Bourbon variety; an Arabica bean with a full body, fine spicy aroma and decent acidity.

The ‘old man’ on our farm is the Blue Mountain Coffee. Its history dates back to the 1920’s when Tanzania was still a colony. Because the harvest is rather small and the trees grow in small blocks surrounded by other varieties, we only sell this strong and luxurious coffee as our farm blend, noted for its harmonious sweetness.

Our most recent addition is the distinctively fruity, almost flowery tasting Geisha brand. While the variety used to be a well-kept secret, it is now a star among coffee lovers. We sell this brand as an exclusive, single field coffee in our shop.

Our top priority is to produce coffee of the highest quality possible. That is why, from the planting to the roasting of the coffee beans, nothing is left to chance.
In our nursery, the green coffee beans are first put into sandy soil to germinate. After about three months, we move the seedlings, commonly called ‘little soldiers’, to a richer volcanic soil. After another nine months, we plant the young trees onto the fields where they can fully develop.

The coffee trees need a good three years before they bloom for the first time. For Arabica varieties like the ones we grow at Shangri-La, we can estimate the size of the harvest based on the number of blossoms, as they are self-pollinating. The blossoms and the fruit sit directly on the branches and ripen after seven to nine months. At Shangri-La, we harvest selectively, which means that our pickers only harvest the red and ripe berries. This procedure has a crucial effect on the taste of the coffee, as harvesting green berries ruins the flavour. An experienced picker can harvest about four 20kg buckets per day. This is equivalent to approximately eight kilos of sun-dried, green coffee beans.

Immediately after harvesting, the red coffee berries are pulped and sorted by size. Subsequently, the green beans are washed with soft spring water. The spring water needed for the pre-processing is reused many times in order to keep our water consumption at a minimum. For our water supply, we have drilled our own well, and the water we draw from this well is also used for watering the plants on the fields.

After the wet pre-processing phase, the beans are left to dry for 10-15 days, during which we aim to maintain residual moisture content in the beans of approximately 12%. In this phase, the still unshelled coffee beans are also known as parchment coffee. Next, the beans are left to rest for a period of time.

Before shipping, the beans must be milled in order to remove the parchment and silver skins. The shelled coffee beans are graded by size and colour and subsequently filled into 60kg hemp bags. Our Kifaru Coffee is not roasted until after it arrives in Denmark, to avoid any quality losses during long ocean shipments. A slow and gentle roasting process in drum roasters allows exact control of the progress, which facilitates a precisely defined taste. This slows roasting process also cuts back on any remaining unwanted acidity and makes our gently roasted premium coffee brands remarkably palatable.

It is important that the coffee is not roasted too strongly. If the outside of the beans is burnt, the so-called Maillard-reaction leads to other unwanted substances including acrylamides. Our Kifaru coffee is roasted on a monthly basis to guarantee the full aroma and freshness of a speciality coffee. Directly after the roasting, we pack and store our beans for a short time to allow them to degas. Finally, the coffee reaches its final destination, either at one of our selected distributors or directly through our webshop.

A dream come true

A passionate coffee farmer

It was love at first sight when Christian Jebsen discovered the coffee farm in 1990. For years, he lovingly restored the neglected property, dividing the coffee grounds into plots, fencing them and leaving wildlife corridors to allow the elephants and buffaloes to continue to roam freely.

“Today I believe coffee is in my own blood; I just did not realise it earlier. My great-aunt Emma already had a coffee farm in the 1920’s in the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. My heart beat faster as I walked upon Shangri-La while on a safari. The farm was built in 1924 and has seen turbulent times, but today there is still so much potential in it. The fertile volcanic soil and the location on the equator offer the best conditions for our high-quality coffees. We, the Shangri-La Estate team, only had to awaken its sleeping beauty.
Of course, it helped that I had studied agricultural marketing and am also familiar with farming. But what we do here, I could never have accomplished on my own. Success is only possible together in a team and with good employees on whom I can rely”.

The history of Shangri-La dates back to colonial times. In the 1920s, coffee was already being grown on the farm. But the owners changed frequently, and the farm never blossomed to its full beauty. Despite two world wars and thus changing colonial rulers, the farm has still managed to keep its charm.
Inspired by James Hilton’s novel “The Lost Horizon”, the farm got its name Shangri-La. A more suitable name could not have been chosen. In his novel, Hilton describes the monastery Shangri-La in the Himalayas as paradise on earth whose immortal residents reject the hectic of civilisation without renouncing its amenities.

Even Tom Lithgow, a former British soldier, was deeply inspired by the breath-taking nature on the edge of the NgoroNgoro Crater and wrote a book about it. The list goes on. In the course of its eventful history, the farm has attracted many different personalities and is still enchanting today.

The farm – The past and the future

Built in 1924, Shangri-La Estate covers an area of approximately 600 hectares, right on the edge of the NgoroNgoro Crater.

200 hectares of bushland on the farm, a third of the entire farmland, are reserved for wildlife corridors, used frequently by buffaloes and elephants. The rest of the area is primarily used for coffee production. In addition, some pigs and cattle are kept, making the farm self-sufficient.

As a new project, Kifaru Coffee has been offering the noble Geisha variety for the past few years. Knowing of the potential of his farm, the Dane Christian Jebsen is always seeking out new ways of perfecting his excellent Arabica highland coffees grown on the fertile soils of the farm. Never being fully satisfied with what he has already achieved, he constantly has new ideas on what to improve or try. “I want a best practice farm”, he emphasises.

Quality Control

At every stage, the progress of the coffee is being documented and tested

At Shangri-La, achieving the highest quality is paramount. To facilitate quality control, we have divided our farm into sections of land, our coffee blocks, so that we always know from which field a given batch of coffee originates. Even before fermentation, we spread out the harvested coffee berries to sort out all remaining unwanted fruit that may have been picked by accident, so that only red and ripe berries reach the next step of production. The coffee berries are then washed in large water basins and freed of impurities and leaves.

Our Priority

Living up to our responsibility

Day in and day out, the land and our workers give us so much that it is only fair to give back and support the local community where possible. For only when the land and its people are taken care of, it is possible to provide a fitting environment in which our high-quality Kifaru Coffee can be produced.

Education is the key to the future

In Tanzania, children often have long journeys to get to school, which makes it difficult to attend on a regular basis. In order to support his farm workers, Christian Jebsen has repeatedly initiated new social projects, such as building a farm kindergarten. Nearly 50 children between the ages of three and six are cared for in the kindergarten, where they are being fed and taught on a daily basis.

During the picking season, the crowd of children increases many times over. That is when the women and their children come from the surrounding communities, to earn an additional income in the harvest. They are housed in the Picker’s Camp, which was built on farm grounds for just this purpose. It includes sleeping facilities, showers and a place to eat. Only because of social projects such as the Picker’s Camp and the kindergarten, women from rural communities are given the chance to earn an income for themselves and their families.

Additionally, a school located in the neighbourhood of the farm is also being supported by the farm through the Shangri-La Education Foundation.

Our Team

The Team behind Kifaru Coffee

Shangri-La flourishes only because of the employees who help to shape the farm processes on a daily basis. Every single employee is important and performs a significant function, without which the processes of the farm would not run smoothly. Appreciation and respect for each other’s performances are the most important values we live by.

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Jacob Christian

Coffee Farmer
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Coffee Manager
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CFO and Head Secretary
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Head of Coffee
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Head of Livestock
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Senior Driver
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Head of New Plantings
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Head of Plant Protection
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Head of Irrigation
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Chef of Samaki Tatu Guest House
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Chef of Shangri-La Farmhouse
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Hospitality Team
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Hospitality Team
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Hospitality Team
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Head of Cheesery
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Head of Avocados