One of our initial surprises about Africa was the lack of good coffee. I actually anticipated this, and even though some of the best coffee is supposed to be grown here, I brought a French Press and some freshly ground “Kicking Horse” espresso beans. This was appreciated on more than one occasion during our trip.
Ultimately we did find some pretty good Malawian coffee called “Mzuzu”. Strangely enough, in the last week of our trip if we wanted this kind of brewed coffee (as opposed to instant coffee, which I can’t even remember the last time I have seen let alone actually tried), we actually had to make a special request. It became a bit of a running joke how long it took to prepare this during breakfast in the morning. I believe this was much more a reflection of the Hippo View Lodge than any sort of Malawian standard.
One night we had the opportunity to stop at a shop in Lilongwe where they carried a variety of assorted items (also where we ran into a rat that seemed to believe he had the run of the place until Joanna and him/her met face-to-face, they both let out a little scream and went their separate ways). It was in this store on aisle two sitting amongst shelves full of unrelated items, that I found a package of this elusive brew. I was happy to have found a package of this coffee to bring home but it was the labelling that made it impossible to leave behind.
We soon found out that labelling standards were a little different here than what we would be accustomed to in North America or Europe, and this Mzuzu packaging was a great example. Have a look at this photo of the front of a package of Mzuzu coffee. The label is absolutely riddled with spelling errors starting with the first line (and continuing on the back) of the product – not sure if you were aware of this but Malawi is known as “The Warm Heart of Africa”, not “The Warm Heat of Africa” (by the way there is a very good reason for this, the people are unbelievably friendly).
It was actually the line at the bottom of the label “Placing Your Health First”, and the Nike logo that made me want to read the back of the package
Every now and then we hear the results of one study or another which might claim that drinking a cup of coffee or two every day might offer some health benefits. The Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union however has clearly been concealing some research that I think the rest of us would have appreciated knowing!
Have a look at some of the health claims on this label – actually, the entire label is quite entertaining, particularly the line “Take it as a necessity STOP! Consumming it for pleasure”