Meet Epiphany Mukashyaka. She leads a co-op of women coffee farmers in Karaba, Rwanda, and together they’ve grown to export many tons of high quality coffee every year. But today’s growth and stability are new to a region that has seen great tragedy. We named this coffee “Redemption” because that is what coffee has become for Rwanda, and for Epiphany.
Ten years ago, Rwanda was struggling back from a tribal genocide that occurred in the 90’s. At that time the export of quality coffee did not exist. Today, Rwanda’s exceptional, high quality coffee is providing a road to redemption for a nation with a tragic past. Together Epiphany and her fellow coffee farmers are part of the solution in Rwanda.
Rwanda’s Specialty Coffee:
When we say that coffee is providing a path to redemption for Rwanda, we’re serious. Over 30% of Rwanda’s coffee is specialty grade. That’s up from zero 10 years ago. Rwandans are surprising everyone as a producer of great coffees- from literally nothing, to remarkably delicious specialty coffee today… They’re on their way to greatness.
Several aid organizations have been contributing to Rwanda’s entrance into the specialty coffee arena. USAID’s program “PEARL” was one that started getting a lot of interest, training, and new equipment. They provided the model, and Rwandans have embraced it. Other NGO’s have also been an influence in Rwanda, notably Willy Foote’s Root Capital, which has been providing loans to the Maraba co-op in Butare province since 2005.Rwanda may be a new player in the specialty coffee arena compared to the older markets like Kenya and Ethiopia. Yet, this may be an advantage. “What Rwanda has is an open book as far as incorporating good qualities for production, processing and marketing, growth potential, and ability to incorporate new systems.”