Coffee Roasting in Desarmes

I have a life goal to eat ice cream on every inhabited continent. I made this goal back before I really appreciated coffee. I do love ice cream and have happily eaten ice cream (or some kind of similar frozen treat) in every country I've been in. (Continent wise, I'm still 4/6). However, coffee would've been an easier goal, I think. And potentially way more regionally interesting.

Ice cream side bar: there isn't any dairy in Haiti, unless it's imported. And you have to be a baller to buy it. I think they told us that butter is like $12 at the grocery stores. (But I did get a chance to eat mango sorbet while I was there, which was delicious and totally counts).

Back to coffee:

When we were in Desarmes, Haiti, we got to visit a coffee roasting demonstration courtesy of Mary Ann Belena who roasted the beans over an open fire. It was beyond impressive (and smelled like heaven). We sat in her Lakou as she roasted the beans, taking turns getting close to the fire to see the beans up close turn from brown to black.
Once they were done, she set them aside and put raw sugar in the pan and let it caramelize until it was almost burnt. (It's common practice in Haiti to add sugar to the coffee beans as a filler, making it last longer, similarly to why add chicory to coffee).
Next, she mixed the coffee beans back in until everything was well coated then poured it out to cool.

When it was cool enough to touch, we watched her grind it up with a wooden mortar using pure womanly strength. She pounded that coffee down into a the finest powder for probably about 20 minutes. (We all got to take a little back with us. I still have mine in the freezer because it's so fine, I am not exactly sure what to do with it. But don't worry, Mary Ann, I'll figure something out).
Isaac Marie Denise (sitting) also joined us. She is a MCC argoforestry technician in Desarmes 
Although I definitely appreciate coffee more than I did when I made my ice cream goal, I should still say that I am still a coffee wimp. I like drinking it with milk at the very least. Haitian coffee is very strong and with no milk around, it was a little rough going at first. But I quickly got the hang of it. (I was grateful for our one hotel stay when we got to drink evaporated milk in our coffee. It was such a royal treat).

Even though Haiti is in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, we (or at least I) don't typically think about coffee growing in Haiti.  But it's there and women like Mary Ann have been making a living from it for years. It is a very rich roast and one that is utterly important in the food culture of Haiti. It was so cool to taste and see it for myself.
This is me in front of a mapou tree, which is this massive tree that is scared in Haiti. Mary Ann's neighbors had one in their back yard.