Lake Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Community: Minova, North-Kivu, Eastern DR Congo
Co-operative: SOPACDI Co-op
Altitude: 1460-2000+ m.a.s.l.
Varietal: mainly Bourbon
Process: Washed, Sundried
Notes: the first producers to achieve the top national coffee grade, Kivu-2 since 1967.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo or DR Congo (formerly Zaire) is a country of nearly 70 million people and an area similar to that of all of Western Europe combined. The past 20 years have seen bloody civil war and little economic development in a country that largely unraveled after the colonial experiment in Central Africa was abandoned in 1960.
SOPACDI is a co-op of approximately 5600 farmers of various ethnic backgrounds. Considering many of these ethnic groups fought one another during the civil war, simply the existence of such a co-op is cause for celebration. Much of their success comes with their partnership with Twin Trading, a development-focused coffee trading company from the UK.
Until very recently, coffee farmers of the Kivu region were unable to sell their coffee within their own country and frequently risked their lives smuggling their coffee across Lake Kivu to barter in bordering Rwanda just to survive. Many widows who lost their partners in the war or in attempts to smuggle their coffee for barter across the lake are members of SOPACDI.