RWANDA RELATIONSHIP COFEEE
So one day, between 5 and 8 years ago, I got sent to Rwanda to buy “great coffee, as cheap as fucking possible”. This didn’t sit right with me (Harley)… so I made friends instead and really enjoyed myself, didn’t buy a bean, but did indulge in plenty of Mutzig (the local lager). I just lived on charcoal meat, Mutzig and peanut chicken for days, while learning a little bit about East Africa and a great deal about the recent genocide. It was apparent that serious progress had been made since 1994, and it was also apparent that white boys like me being sent there to buy off diff was not gonna supporting this progression. Eyes may have been opened.
I met Emmanuel Rusatira (Emma) on my second day in Kigali, I don’t remember much of my first day except that it was hot, loud, and I met Mutzig. I have no heroes; Emma is a hero. His personal story is one of the saddest fucking depressing things you’re ever going to hear, in this country we can’t even comprehend the level of pain not just individuals but the whole nation suffered. His achievements for himself, his family, and his people are nothing short of astounding. He betters the lives of thousands of Rwandans on a daily basis. From our first conversation I knew I would find a way to work with him, and have kept regular contact ever since. I’d like you to hear more about Emma from the man himself, last time we put we did a public webchat with him there were tears all round, watch this space for a podcast.
A few years later, another contact I met on another trip for the roasters I’ve decidedly not mentioned above, was Richard. He’s a coffee trader, his story might be as interesting as Emma’s, but it’s probably not. Richard worked for Algrano. Algrano gave us 40K credit to order coffee from Emma... we spent the lot, brilliant. Oh yeah, at some point I started Cuppers, who are happy to pay good money for Rwandan coffee, so long as someone’s prepared to finance it.
We’re now into year 4 of working with Emma through Baho Coffee, with finance and logistical support from Algrano. Honestly, it’s been a dream come true. So far we’ve worked with 5 washing stations run by Emma (Akagera, Muzo, Fugi, Ngoma, Bugoyi). We’ve purchased 22 different lots from these stations, mostly smallholder contributions, 2 were single farmer lots. Through this relationship we’ve so far brought around 20 tonnes of wicked Rwandan coffee to the UK specialty market, most of this coffee would otherwise not have been seen. We are super stoked to be Baho’s first UK roaster partner.
In the first year Emma asked us how much we wanted to pay for our lots... we said, errr... we dunno... how much did they cost to produce? (Bare in mind here that we were spending Algrano’s money so we were pretty chill). Getting a realistic and responsible price from Emma was like drawing blood from a stone... I think he was worried about scaring us off, while we were more worried about ripping him off. See table below for all prices paid for Baho coffees.
Here are some questions you may be asking in your heads:
1. How is this relationship supporting Rwandan producers?
Working directly with a Rwandan-owned coffee company to keep profits in Rwanda. Farmers are paid a government-mandated price per kg of cherry, and Baho provides additional bonuses based on quality and runs programs such as a nursery and social initiatives. We aim to increase our purchases from Baho each year to support their infrastructure and farmers, and we are working with them on an intercropping experiment to increase farmer income.
Each year we work with Baho, we aim to purchase more coffee from them. As we grow, we aim to continue this. This level of commitment and continuity enables Baho to invest in their infrastructure and their farmers.
2. Is the coffee any good?
Yeah, it's all been really good.
3. Where are the facts and figures?
2020 Harvest, arrived with us spring 2021. Prices fixed in USD.
|Lot name/number||Price FOT $||Price landed minus UK road transport// overage on storage and finance $||Amount purchased KGs|
|RW49 Natural 13/14 Bugoyi 2020||$5.50||$6.42||2100|
|RW48 Washed 13/14 Bikunda Island 2020||$4.90||$5.82||1500|
|RW43 Intango Fugi Ikezere 2020||$6.04||$7.36||1200|
|RW51 Washed Usekanabugoyi Single farmer 2020||$7.04||$8.69||420|
|RW52 Natural Akagera//Kobakanya 2020||$7.52||$8.96||300|
|RW53 Intango Cyshero//Ngoma 2020||$7.52||$9.21||120|
|RW50 Washed Single farmer Bernard 2020||$6.29||$8.06||120|
2021 Harvest, arrived with us spring 2022. Prices fixed in GBP.
|Lot name/number||Price FOT £||Price landed minus UK road transport// overage on storage and finance £||Amount purchased KGs|
|RW49 Natural//Ngoma 13/14 2021||£5.26||£5.91||2400|
|RW48 Washed//Fugi 13/14 2021||£4.80||£6.83||2100|
|RW78 Anaerobic Natural//Muzo 13/14 2021||£6.18||£6.90||1200|
|RW76 Experipental anaerobic honey 13/14 2021||£6.00||£6.83||60|
|RW77 Experipental anaerobic washed 13/14||£6.00||£6.83||60|
2022/23 Prices TBC