Rwanda’s western side is bounded by Lake Kivu, Africa’s sixth largest freshwater lake, spreading across the Great Rift Valley as it fuses with the surrounding volcanic geography. The extensity and mysticism of the lake, the raised beds where coffee is being dried on its nearby hills, and the villagers waving happily is an encouraging scene of abundance. One that raises our hopes of staying true to our mission of finding great coffee with inspiring stories.
Rwanda’s coffee growers work hard to make their land a prosperous one. All family members chip in to make the most out of the harvest. COOPAC, a fairtrade certified cooperative, was founded by 110 farmers in 2001 that now boasts over 2,200 members, is a good example of how a community-driven model has a better chance of boosting members’ profits while knitting a tighter, more supportive society. Something we look up to and identify with - collaboration among team-oriented people is key for success. Through education, technical assistance, and strict organic practices the co-op growers have been improving caffeine enthusiasts’ perception about their coffee and its quality.
“Our ultimate goal is to see higher returns for our collective efforts and to increase the wellbeing of our members” says Emmanuel Rwankagara chairman of COOPAC. The co-op is committed to environmental and social sustainability - a hard yet laudable goal many Western corporate giants struggle to execute on. Toward that end, the by-products of COOPAC’s coffee depulping and washing process are used as fertilizer rather than discarded into the lake where coffee pulp can lead to the depletion of oxygen. Shade trees are distributed to farmers to prevent soil erosion and to assist the community in the construction of schools, health-care clinics, roads and bridges.
This is the Rift Valley's proudest fair trade, organically certified coffee and behind it are hundreds of people putting their best effort. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!