Category: Travel

Nairobi, Kenya

The Experience

In East Africa, heading south to Madagascar through Ethiopia, Kenya (Nairobi), and Tanzania (Kilimanjaro, Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar) before heading north to Morocco for a 13 city tour.

I’m on a quest for the elusive unroasted coffee bean from small production farms with a limited annual production of 500 to 1000 pounds max.  I’m hunting for a particular scarce bean that, when roasted to the first crack, yields an aroma of dark chocolate with a hint of peanut butter. It’s color, once ground, is said to resemble the color of the sands of the Sahara Desert at sunset, visually resembling a nutty caramel color with a hint of orange.  My goal?  To return with the most tasty coffee beans I can find.


The Network

The barista mentions a small private tour of a local plantation, known for fine coffee and rare spices. The next thing I know, I’m heading north in a silver van in rout to said spice plantation at the cost of around $30. USD, transportation and guided tour included. People are fast and friendly here if you know what you want.

The guided tour?  More like one guide and five young African farm laborers who gather and present you with samples of their products.  The kiwi was sweet, the mango tangy and the coffee green on the vine.   I’m looking for the money man, so I ask, “how much?” as I point to the green beens ripening on the vine.  “You want?” one guy asks, “how much?” I replied.  “OK, come come” he says as he gestures with the slow movement of his hand.  I broke from the spice tour with plans to meet up with them for lunch around noon.


The Bean

Departing the cool shade of the canopy we crossed a field and navigated over few irrigation trenches and arrived at what appeared to be a shanty bean drying facility and operations warehouse with burlap sacks, 50 kilos each.  I am presented with two types of raw coffee beans to choose from.  Option A was the pure green bean, nothing but the bean. Option B was a mix of raw bean mixed with unsorted rough.  I chose option A to be safe.

Then the money man asks, “how many kilos?” To which I respond, “Ah…..one!”  That’s 2.2 pounds of raw beans and I plan on scoring 10 to 11 times as I move south before heading up to Morocco in the north.

Suddenly it occurs to me that I need to quickly assess my strategy, because my plan is to get a sample from 10 or 11 plantations to roast when I return.  So much for strategy…I returned with 10 kilos of beans from the African continent.  More than enough to master the art of roasting and still have enough to host cuppings (tastings) for a year or more.


The Deal

Money man starts the price at 1,654. Shillings per kilo, about $16. USD.  Two or three times the going price by weight.  After more barter we settle on a price and I walk with my score in hand, only nine or ten more deals to go.


The Score

In the end, I returned from Africa with coffee from eleven different harvests spanning eight countries.  Some roasted, some raw green, weighing in at ten kilos.  The roasted varieties are producing aromas of chocolate, nut, peanut butter, orange, mint, various fruits and more.  After roasting the raw beans, I have a total of 14 different flavors to sample and share with friends.   I take the beans to the sweet, sugar brewing phase of the roast and stop at the first crack, producing a more flavorful, authentic coffee flavor, much lighter in taste than any black french roast will ever produce.

Hmm, Where to go next…

Deep contemplation on the next destination.

 

Singapore

David Loughlin – Exploring Singapore

I have visited Singapore three times in 2017 already, mostly two day stays on my way to some more tropical, exotic local like Bali, Sorong and Raja Ampat.  All told, I spent about a week in this country and I must give it credit.  I love the fine dining, elegant hotels, tropical weather and shopping.  I purchased three custom tailored suites for less than $1K, about 65% less than back home in the states and to my surprise, they were delivered to my hotel the same day by 8:00 pm.  Nothing like the pool and bar at the Sands although I am not much for heights, but the view is beautiful.   The social scene at the hotel pools in Singapore is amazing.

Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

David Loughlin – Exploring Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

I love islands and the feeling of sand on my feet. Exploring new islands is one of the best feelings ever.  The Indonesian archipelago has more than ten thousand islands, only a few places on earth that create a blank canvas for explorers.  Nusa Lembongan lies just off the coast of Bali, located about 11 kilometers southeast of the main island. It is a small island with the length of 4.6 kilometers at its longest point and width of 1.5 kilometers at its widest.  Only a 30 minute ride by speed boat and your in paradise.

D R E A M   B E A C H
This statue gazing out to sea says it all and gave me inspiration to return to Singapore again, before heading to North and East Africa weeks later.  Singapore, now there is an interesting country.  I have visited Singapore three times this year already,  vastly expanding my wardrobe from all of the great deals and and new Asian designs.  Between Africa and South East Asia, my wardrobe has increased in size by about 45%.  Acquiring stuff along the way.
David Loughlin


David Loughlin

Looking out to see from Dream beach with the Devils Tears behind me and Dream Beach to the left.  Exploring this beautiful island.  The roads on these tropical islands are serene.

D E V I L S   T E A R S
David Loughlin

Tourist parking.

The view of Jungatbatu Village from the hilltop above.

On approach to the island…the bay is lined with resorts perched atop the lush green hilltop.  Take some time and resort hop and see what each resort offers, grab lunch at your favorite place.

Boat bobbing in the sea.  My view from a cliff side cafe as I mingle with a group of German ladies on holiday.


David Loughlin

Seashells are like memories
I have combed some of the most remote island beaches over the past 4 months.  Many of the beaches have loads of seashells for the taking.  Just be sure to get up early and beat the locals as they clean the beaches of these beauties before 6:00 am.   Many are the largest and most colorful shells I have ever seen and so abundant I gathered about 15 pounds of them, extra luggage was required.

Picked this Indonesian bridal necklace up in Sorong, a chartered coastal city in the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua.  Hand made of shells and red coral, this piece of art weighs pounds and is almost 3 feet long.  Returning home with this in perfect condition was not easy.  Not sure what to do with it.

Diving Nusa Lembongan
Nothing like a day of diving with Capt. Morgan, not his real name of course, but much easier to pronounce.  What a great human being.

Another beautiful day in Indonesia. Magnanimous, grateful and blessed to be here at this point in time.

Moasic, Fine French Cuisine – Ubud

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Beautifully damp and wet up here in the mountains in Ubud.  Busy day relaxing when in passing, a fellow traveler mentioned a French restaurant named Mosaic.  I threw on some white pants and one of my new Indonesian collarless shirts and checked it out myself.

The atmosphere was nothing less than posh, the wine selection diverse and the food divine.  Every attention to detail goes into Mosaic’s dining experience from texture to flavor to presentation.  Tope notch service all the way.  No shortage of international travelers at this dining hot spot, it only took a minute to spark up a conversion and begin my travels with a fellow traveler who I traveled with for a week.

 

 

Ku De Ta – Seminyak, Bali

One of the most prominent hot spots on the island, Ku De Ta in Seminyak features a unique layout with a main restaurant area, a dedicated bar, a centerpiece lawn bordering the beachfront where special events take place and a special private loft for secluded moments. A dedicated sunset box provides the perfect vantage point to enjoy the crimson horizon and its own in-house international DJ team plays an impressive series of compilation albums, making Ku De Ta top of the list for music. This one-stop dining and chill-out spot has a ‘French bistro-esque’ beach side garden setting with many cozy corners to choose from. The kitchen serves a menu of pan-Asian cuisine including Thai and Japanese as well as Moroccan, European and Mediterranean flavors. Ku De Ta is a perfect venue to enjoy lazy breakfasts, hearty brunches and lunches, as well as tapas. Enjoy candlelit dinners for two at the intimate dining room, called ‘the pergola’.

Opening Hours: 08:00 – midnight
Location: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak Tel: +62 (0)361 736 969

Website: http://www.facebook.com/KUDETA