Zimbabwe, a landlocked state in southern Central Africa, consists of high plateaux flanked by the Zambezi river valley and Lake Kariba in the north and the Limpopo in the south.

Climatic conditions are temperate because of altitude. Most people live in central Zimbabwe. Tobacco, cotton, sugar, tea, coffee and beef are produced for export as are a variety of minerals including gold, nickel, asbestos and copper. Manufacturing provides a wide range of goods. Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner.

Only Arabica

Arabica coffee is a comparatively new crop in Zimbabwe, and was brought to Rhodesia, as it was then known, by members of the Moodle Trek who moved into the eastern border area in the 1890s. However, diseases destroyed most of the small plantations in the early 1920s and it was in 1958 that coffee achieved a toehold in the country's agricultural spectrum with the arrival of some families who had been involved in coffee production in India and Kenya. These families settled in the eastern highlands district, and with other early pioneers of coffee struggled through to the 1960s to establish the crop, learning how to adapt old practices to local conditions. They eventually proved that the country could grow top quality coffee with sound economic yields. 

Zimbabwe has developed a highly intensive fully irrigated system of growing Arabica, which is being followed by its neighbours, Malawi and Zambia. The Zimbabwe approach is to allow trees to grow freely with little or no pruning, thus reducing costs, and to replant every seven years. The youthful vigour of the trees keeps them relatively disease-free and yeilds are usually in excess of 5,000 kg per hectare of washed usable coffee are common under this system.

Crop Periods

Flowering Period

Main : October until December


Harvesting Period

Main:  July until October


Shipping Period

Main: October until July

Transit Days

Port of Shipment
















Countries of Export

1. Japan
2. USA
3. United Kingdom, Italy,

ICO Figures

By Region

The majority of Zimbabwe coffee is grown in the Chipinge & Chimanimani area.

By Screen Size

Zimbabwe is now using a Kenyan-style classification:

AAA (so called Pinnacle)

Screen 19/20




Screen 15

E (elephant)

Screen 15

PB (peaberries)

Screen 15


Screen 15/14


Not smaller than Screen 14


Prior to the liberalisation of the exports in 1995, the local GMB (Grain Marketing Board) was using another system: still today a lot of people talk about the then used Code 53 or Code 55

By Taste

The classification based on screen size is complemented by a parameter indicating the organoleptic qualities: faq (fair average quality) is the norm, faq "plus" is given to parcels with an exceptional nice liquor. TIn low grades there is a distinction made between TT ONE and TT TWO. TT ONE has a clean cup with light acidity and body. TT TWO is not garanteed 100% clean in cup.

Typical description

Zimbabwe C faq


By Hand 


For All Arabicas


For all Arabicas


In the Sun, on tables, with manual selection.


Mainly Densimetric tables, no color sorting


There is virtually no Robusta. The trees are generally planted with 3 to 4 trees per cova in soils that vary form 6 to 8 feet in depth. Most farms follow a seven-year replanting cycle


Nice to know

Farms are mostly held and run by foreign companies. The local political climate does not favor foreign investment time being.

Coffee Growers Association

In 1961, a handful of far-sighted growers formed the Coffee Growers Association. In 1972, the government was asked to invest in a processing mill for coffee. In return the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which fell under the governments Agriculture Marketing Authority, gained full responsibility for financing, processing, marketing and exports. Coffee at this time became a government controlled product. During this period, and while suffering from trade sanctions (later lifted in 1980 after independence), the main (official) exports remained to Southern Africa until about 1981. Some of the crop mysteriously found its way into other foreign warehouses. 
During this period, the somewhat arcane "Codes" were established for all coffees, which would later prove to be a rather distinguishing but unpractical marketing tool. This 20 year period was the adolescence of Zimbabwe coffee as we know it.

After gaining its independence and the lifting of trade sanctions, Zimbabwe became a member of ICO and was allocated an export quota like other member producing countries. This led to the decision of the GMB to no longer exclusively market their coffee through closed channels.
Sales of coffee for the most part were then organised through weekly open tenders. The GMB would telex buyers around the world offering coffees which had to be bid upon within a certain time frame. In essence, this was a relaxed auction system with no assurances to any buyer of continuous supply. The system did, however, provide an "open book" approach to marketing which was seen as important to the government agency. The limitations of this system and the its ineffectiveness to properly market Zimbabwe's coffee quickly became apparent, and by 1992 the growers increasing frustrations reached a critical point. To their credit, the GMB realised that marketing and financing of such a specialised commodity would be better handled by "Coffee People", but limitations of existing legislature made it difficult to for these changes to take place. Eventually by 1993, through the governments commitment to decentralisation of the agricultural sector, the coffee growers were finally enabled to take control of their crop and the tender system vanished. The era of pro-active marketing was born, and each coffee grower and farmer was now free to market their coffee in any way they saw fit. 


The present

In Zimbabwe today there are approximately 9.500 hectares devoted to coffee, 130 registered commercial farmers, as well as 1600 smallholder farms. The majority of the crop (80%) is grown in the Chipinge district at an altitude of 1.200 meters. The majority of growers grow the SL28 variety as well as small amounts of Caturra. The national average yield is around two metric tons per hectare, although some commercial farmers attain significantly higher yields of 4 to 6 tons per hectare.


Total Production


Local Consumption




Importance of Coffee


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