Rwanda, where this week’s coffee originates, is another relatively new country to specialty coffee.
Until the year 2000 most Rwandan coffee was low quality and sold to the domestic market. In 2001 moves were made to start privatising coffee farms and establishing private washing stations, and now there are over 300 washing stations across Rwanda.
This work by the Rwandan government together with foreign partners in the coffee trade (such as Nordic Approach, once again our sourcing partner for this coffee) has helped lift the quality rather than the quantity of crops. This increased quality has allowed Rwandan coffee to compete on the world specialty coffee market, and has meant an increase in the price per kilogram.
According to research by the World Bank, the average export price of Rwandan coffee nearly doubled between 2003 and 2008.
It takes a lot of people to bring you coffee
In the case of the coffee you’re drinking this week, the beans came from almost a thousand smallholder farmers, who each have relatively small crops of less than 200 trees.
One tree produces an average of 1.7 kg of coffee cherries, meaning it takes hundreds of farmers, in some cases even thousands, to produce and deliver enough cherries to a washing station for one ‘lot’ of coffee.
Rwanda has around 500,000 coffee farmers, and over 4,000 new jobs were created by the new private wet mills between 2001–2006.