Coffee production in Tanzania is a significant aspect of its economy as it is Tanzania's largest export crop. Tanzanian coffee production averages between 30-40,000 metric tons annually of which approximately 70% is Arabica and 30% is Robusta.
Coffee was introduced into the Tanzanian region from modern day Ethiopia in the 16th century. Coffee was not really brewed in the region but was used as a stimulant. Through oral sources in the region the Haya tribe located in northwest Tanzania in modern-day Kagera region was the only recorded tribe that used the beans. The tribe boiled the Robusta beans and steamed them with various herbs and chewed on the mixture as a stimulant. The tribe also used the coffee beans as a form of currency and the growing and cultivating of the beans were highly controlled by tribal leaders.
The German colonization of the region in the late 19th century changed the value of the crop in the region. The Germans introduced various laws that reduced the control of tribal leaders over the cultivation of the crop and the coffee seeds were made widely available. The Haya tribe was forced to grow different food crops such as bananas and pineapples and were pressured to grow the new Arabica variant introduced by the Germans. In other regions of the country the Germans introduced the bean in the North of the region near Kilimanjaro and Tanga. Due to the abolishing of slavery tribal chiefs that relied on the trade for income such as the Chagga tribe, entirely switched to cultivating the Coffee beans.
After independence the socialist government of Tanzania saw a lot of promise in the crop and aspired to double the crop production. Various schemes and loans were given to coffee farms to increase production. Furthermore, large governmental estates were created in the southern part of the country namely in Mbozi and Mbinga regions. The government expanded the idea of farmers cooperatives into areas that had no prior cooperative experience or need. Most of the cooperatives failed and the mass movement of the population due to Ujamaa in the early 1970s hampered production. Before, 1976 all coffee trades were handled by two cooperative owned coffee processing factories one in Moshi (arabica) and the other in Bukoba (robusta) and then it was sold at the Moshi auction. in 1977 all coffee cooperative unions were dissolved and the government mandated the Coffee Authority of Tanzania. The coffee production in the country suffered drastically due to major governmental interventions and high cost of growing.
Due to the country's colonial past, Tanzania opted for British nomenclature of grading Coffee, which is done according to shape, size and density of the beans. The best known of these are;
The Tanzanian economy is heavily based on agriculture and it provides 24% of the national gross domestic product. In 2014 3.3% of Tanzania's export worth $186 million was coffee. More than 90% of the country's output originates from small farmers rather than estates and provides employment to 400,00 families and affect more than 2.4 million citizens directly. Coffee being the second highest valued agriculture export after tobacco. Major purchasers of Tanzanian coffee is Japan (22%), Italy (19%) and the United States (12%). Germany used to be the largest purchaser of Tanzanian coffee however with increased marketing and better quality control, Japan and the United States have begun to buy the lion share of the exports.
The Tanzanian coffee board has met many challenges over the years and works continuously on making a better brand name for the Tanzanian coffee. Most of the country's export is used to blend in with other brands causing it to lose value on the international market. However, in Japan, Tanzanian coffee has managed to maintain a brand called "Kilimanjaro coffee". In 1991 the All Japan Fair Trade Council decided that all Tanzanian coffee can retain the label "Kilimanjaro coffee" regardless of what region in Tanzania it was produced. Furthermore, any coffee blend that contains 30% or more Tanzanian beans can also use the label. This major step forward in the Japanese market has caused for an appreciation in value for Tanzanian coffee in the country and today Japan is the highest importer of the bean.
Local consumption of coffee is nearly not as large as the export volume. Due to high amounts of poverty in the country coffee is more expensive than tea and the populace consumes more tea. However, in the recent year local coffee consumption is increasing and has gone from 2% of production in 2003 to 7% in 2014.