How many cups of coffee does it take to write a romance novel? The answer, for me, is many indeed – but they must be of the very best beans.
In Burning Embers, which is set in and around Mombasa in Kenya, Coral is invited to stay at a friend’s coffee plantation and drinks coffee brewed from the local beans. Kenyan coffee is delicious – if you like strong flavour. It’s a distinctive taste, and many agree it has fruity undertones. In fact, it’s so good that sometimes it’s added in small quantities to other coffees to improve their flavour.
The Kenyan climate and the acidic soil it creates are ideal for coffee growing, and it is estimated that the coffee industry employs around six million people and produces around 40,000 metric tons of coffee per year.
Most coffee production is carried out on plantations, like the one Coral visits, or on smallholdings. The coffee trees produce berries usually called cherries; these can be red or purple. Most cherries contain two ‘beans’, which are actually their seeds. The cherries are picked, usually by hand, from October to the end of the year and then April to June.
If, like me, you enjoy a good cup of coffee and would like to sample a taste of Kenya (and why not do so while curled up in an armchair reading Burning Embers…) you need not travel all the way to the African Continent. Good supermarkets sell coffees from around the world, there are excellent online coffee specialist sites which you can browse, and I recently noticed that Starbucks are offering a Kenyan roast as well.
And if you manage to get hold of some Kenyan coffee and feel in need of a delicious treat (and why wouldn’t you?), here’s a link to a fabulously decadent Kenyan coffee and cardamom hot chocolate recipe.