Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Coffee in Kibuye

I did not think I was going to find any decent coffee in Kibuye and I didn't. No surprises there: all coffee-producing countries in the region grow coffee as a cash crop - for sale - not for consumption. To find people who grow and drink coffee one has to go to Ethiopia. But then, coffee was invented there - there still is a district called Caffa and anyone who's been invited to a home coffee ceremony would know what coffee means for the Ethiopians.

No Ethiopians in Kibuye, so no coffee. I suppose I could have gone to the posh resort north of town for a cuppa, but I was driving the Corolla, I was only popping in town for five minutes, and I did not want to break the car on the horrible road to the resort. Besides, posh or not, they still make you wait one hour for coffee, so I decided not to. Instead I stopped at a place in the centre of town, where local and transient business people go for lunch. Of course it is a buffet.

The place is really an underground car park under a building, full of plastic chairs and tables. The buffet is the standard line-up: five kinds of carbohydrates (matoke, ugali, rice, chapatti and pasta), a pot of boiled meat and some sort of salad - largely made of cabbage. Yuck.

So I ignore the food - I have a couple of oranges and a few biscuits with me in the car - and ask for coffee. Even nescafe' would be OK after the drive from Kigali up and down the mountains to Kibuye. The young woman tells me there is no hot water left, they can't make coffee. I sigh and order a coke instead.

While I drink, stretch my legs under the table and watch the local fauna, the young woman comes back with a small thermos flask, the nescafe' tin, sugar and cup.
- I have hot water for coffee.
I am delighted, I thank her, and I proceed to brew a plastic coffee. So I pour the coffee granules and the sugar in the cup, open the flask and pour just a few drops into the mix so I can do a bit of whisking with the spoon, then open again the flask and pour the rest of the water.
I now have a cup of coffee, full and steaming. I am so happy.
I wait a bit for it to cool down, then I bring it to my lips...and I smell boiled meat.
Oh no. I open the flask again and sniff the water. Yes they did.

The young woman, eager to please the customer, finding herself without hot water, went into the kitchen where the cauldron with the boiling beef is, and filled the flask with it, for my coffee. What does she know about coffee? Boiling water is boiling water, never mind the pieces of beef in it. I taste the results - the beef-flavoured nescafe' - and I can't rightly say if it is better than normal nescafe' or not. I leave it on the table, pay, thank everyone and leave.

The drive back to Kigali is great fun on the empty roads of Sunday afternoon.

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