Don’t make the same mistake that I almost made. Visiting the Tanna Coffee Factory wasn’t high on my list of things to do in Port Vila. I don’t drink coffee, so even their cafe wasn’t appealing to me, initially. Fortunately, we had a few hours to kill in Port Vila between our flights and that’s how we added the Tanna Coffee Factory to our Vanuatu itinerary.
Only a few minutes away from the airport, in Vanuatu’s biggest village Mele, the Tanna Coffee Factory was a perfect visit between our flights.
Learn why in this article and jump to the end if you want to know where to buy Tanna Coffee in Australia or abroad.
Here are a few reasons why you must visit Tanna Coffee Factory:
1. Tanna Coffee Factory Tour is interesting… and free
You don’t even need to book it. You can just show up at the shop during opening hours and get a free tour of the factory.
When I write factory, you may imagine big machines and multiple staff around them repeating the same gestures in a non-stop activity and noises. But we are in Vanuatu and although coffee is an important industry to support local farmers, it is a very small scale factory.
Our tour consisted of visiting one small area behind the cafe. There were only one machine and a few bins with coffee grains and the final products. It was nonetheless very interesting. Plus, it feels more intimate and as there was not too much noise, we felt at ease asking many questions during the visit. It was a pleasant interaction as we could feel and share the passion and the pride of our guide.
2. The coffee tastes good
The active Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna Island contributes to the rich and earthy flavours of the organic Tanna Coffee. It is 100% Arabica. They describe it as “some of the finest and definitely freshest ‘Arabica Coffee’ in the World”. The volcano soil is precious as they don’t need to use any harmful fertilisers or chemicals on the trees.
The coffee is then brought to Port Vila to be roasted and sold – and that’s where you can taste it. They created a nice area where you can order coffee and learn more about Tanna farmers and the work they do.
3. It’s a great sustainable tourism initiative
Coffee plantations on Tanna Island are a source of income from small-scale traditional farmers who are too far away from the coast and the volcano to benefit from tourism. In 2015, one of the worst Tropical Cyclones ever, Cyclone Pam, devastated Vanuatu and more specifically Tanna Island. 90% of the coffee trees were destroyed.
But they did not give up. Many lives and futures depend on these trees.
So visiting the Tanna Coffee Factory is not only about tasting great coffee. It’s also about helping a community and an economy to rebuild.
4. It makes excellent souvenir gifts
You can buy coffee at the Tanna Coffee Factory and take it back home. They sell coffee grounds, coffee beans, and even Nespresso compatible capsules. They are aware of the challenges you may face at the customs when you bring food with you. So they have followed all the necessary rules to export it easily and sell it to tourists.
Responsible tourism tip: By choosing carefully the souvenirs you will bring home, you can make a positive impact on the destination you visit. It’s better to avoid the common mass-produced items such as t-shirts, keyrings or magnets: they are often imported and rarely benefit the local communities. Local arts and craft objects are often a good choice – if they aren’t made from unsustainable resources (animals or rare materials for example should often be avoided).
5. There is an art gallery
That was an amazing surprise! They have installed an art gallery just next to the cafe. We were lucky to visit when Julieth Peta was there. She is an amazing person to connect with.
Considered Vanuatu’s foremost woman contemporary artist, she was the first woman to graduate from the Arts course at the National Institute of Technology of Vanuatu. Her tapestry was chosen to be featured on the UNESCO envelopes worldwide.
I enjoyed making her talk about her work and career. She paints the traditional cultures of Vanuatu, daily life, and nature. You can view some of her work here.
While you’re in the gallery, make sure to have a proper look at the painting on a dried Banyan tree bark. It’s an impressive piece of work.
Where to buy Tanna Coffee in Australia?
It’s great to continue to support Tanna Island by purchasing the coffee once back home. From Australia, we can purchase it from the NGO Oxfam.
Other things to see near Tanna Coffee Factory
We spent a small hour at Tanna Coffee Factory. Once you are in this area, you can check out the Mele Cascades and Hideaway Island from the Beach Bar.
Where is the Tanna Coffee Factory in Port Vila?
Tanna Factory is only 10 kilometres outside the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila, and it’s even closer to the airport. We caught a bus for 150 VT each.
Make sure you stop on Route de Mele, after the river and just before the Golf Club. Don’t go too far, if you pass the Beach Bar and end up on Devil’s Point Road, you are not at the right place (that’s the old factory!).
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