The DR Congo is an emerging hotspot for specialty coffee
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) may be less widely known for its coffee production than its neighbors Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, but this perception is changing. After decades of conflict and civil war, the specialty coffee trade is experiencing unprecedented growth in the DRC.
Here at Buddy Brew, we recently sourced coffee from SOPACDI (Solidarité Paysanne pour la Promotion des Actions Café et Développement Intégral), a cooperative of more than 5,000 Congolese farmers from different ethnic groups in the provinces of North and South Kivu in eastern DRC.
“Coffee from the DRC is not a common find, but the few offerings we have had over the years have created lasting memories for our sensory team,” said Buddy Brew’s Director of Coffee, Phil Holstein. “This new release from the SOPACDI allowed our senses to be stirred once again as we enjoyed dialing in the roast profile. It’s truly remarkable.”
SOPACDI was founded in 2001, began production in 2008, and received Fair Trade certification in 2011. The cooperative grew from the 19 founding members to more than 5,000 producers across eight sectors in eastern Congo. Of those, women make up 29 percent.
The cooperative allows local producers to leverage resources, providing more opportunities to connect with international buyers and grow their farming enterprise. Before SOPACDI was founded, farmers reportedly had to smuggle coffee across Lake Kivu to Rwanda to barter for food and goods. This journey was hazardous, and even deadly. Now Congolese farmers are finding their footing in the specialty coffee trade.
“We live in a beautiful but very difficult place,” one of the farmers shared. “We have lived through civil war and in great poverty for many years, but since forming our cooperative, despite our challenges, we also feel full of hope. For the first time we have good buyers for our coffee, who buy from us directly. Our homes are basic, without electricity, running water and other amenities. But our families are back together and we are rebuilding our communities.”
Today, SOPACDI provides a safer environment to grow and export specialty grade coffees. They have a mission to use coffee production to improve the lives of their members; looking to the guiding principles of peace and reconciliation while producing the finest coffee quality possible.
“We are so honored to be able to source this coffee from SOPACDI,” Buddy Brew co-founder Susan Ward said. “The coffee is exceptional and a rare treat; and it is very rewarding to make a positive difference in the lives of coffee farmers in the DRC.”
Visit the Buddy Brew e-commerce shop to purchase our latest coffee from the DRC. It has a complex flavor profile, with subtle blackberry acidity, dried citrus notes, dark honey and baking spices.