It’s been a while since I’ve been able to really enjoy a cup of coffee. Having been pregnant and then breastfeeding, you tend to stay away from caffeine for the sake of your baby, unless absolutely necessary. A few months ago, I decided I really needed to introduce back my daily coffee and tried a local brand of coffee. It was good.. but then I spotted Asili Coffee. I tried it, and well let’s just say, once you’ve had Asili, you’ll never go back.
What I noticed about the coffee was the floral fragrance that wafted through when I first opened the pack. It smelt amazing, and almost like an instant hit of caffeine without even drinking any of it yet. The coffee was ground very fine, much finer than another local brand of coffee! I used a coffee plunger and let it brew for a few minutes. I drank the coffee just black, no milk, and it was smooth and easy to drink. It didn’t have a bitter aftertaste either.
Asili Premium Coffee is the premier product in the Asili Coffee range. It’s a blend of 100% Arabica coffee beans sourced from Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi. The beans are roasted and ground, then packaged in Ghana. While there isn’t a blend that’s made with Ghanaian beans, they have plans to utilise Ghanaian grown Robusta for other products.
What’s the difference between Arabica and Robusta beans? The caffeine content for one in Arabica beans are lower than Robusta beans. According to barkingdogroasters.com, while Arabica beans are mild and aromatic, Robusta beans are harsher and bitter tasting, because there’s more caffeine content. “Robusta is used by some coffee producers because the plants, being hardier and easier to grow and harvest produce a cheaper, though less desirable bean. Robusta is more disease and insect resistant than Arabica because Robusta plants produce as much as three times the amount of caffeine as Arabica plants. The extra caffeine helps protect the Robusta coffee plants from pests because caffeine is a powerful insecticide and anti-microbial agent.”
Asili have strong plans for their Robusta crop and product range. Asili’s spokesman added that “in order for Robusta to be able to compete with Arabica on the global specialty coffee scene it has to be grown painstakingly. An example being the world renowned Robusta offered by Kaapi Royal. We have reserved lands in the Akuapem area and are currently working on plans to begin trials, that operation however is run under our trading company Asili Coffee Purveyors. If we are successful it will be launched as a completely different product emphasising the incorporation of Ghanaian grown coffee in the blend. We are of the hope that trials will be positive as it will provide opportunities for local farmers long term.”
What was refreshing to read about on Asili’s website is their social responsibility and wanting to “have a positive impact within and beyond our vicinity.” An example of this being their “research in closed loop systems, where waste from one process can be used as inputs for others.” Their website shows photos of them utilising used coffee grounds to aid in growing oyster mushrooms.
Their aim is to have a greater impact within the Akuapem North Municipality which is where their head office is located. The impact being providing local employment, as well as “serve as an example to other individuals or corporations, that it is possible for a business to be built and thrive in the Municipality.”
‘Asili’, if you’re wondering is the Swahili word for origin. While Asili coffee as a company has been in existence engaging in research since May 2016, they officially commenced operations in November 2017. Their head office is located in the Akropong Akuapem area, and they have reserved lands for farming their own Robusta beans. Their vision is “bringing the best coffee to the world” and in the long-term are focused on exporting their products. They currently sell directly to businesses wholesale.
According to the Ghana Cocoa Board website, coffee was introduced in Ghana in the mid-eighteenth century by early missionaries. Although, most Ghanaians I’ve met prefer tea over coffee, that seems to be changing and the cafe culture is quickly taking over. Coffee franchises like Vida e Cafe and Second Cup have popped up all over Accra. An influx of expatriates in Accra over the last few years have also increased the demand for (decent) coffee offerings. Gone are the days when all you could order are americano coffees and espressos. For the longest time I had no idea what an americano (basically a diluted espresso or tall black) was and all I wanted was a decent latte!
If you’re interested in trying Asili Premium Coffee yourself, you can find them at their current stockists – Niche Expressions at 1 Airport Square, D’Cafe in East Legon and The Shop Accra at Nyaniba Estates.