By The Inspirer
As a fierce advocate of sustainability and social issues, I gravitate toward products from companies whose philosophies align with mine. So when I find one whose mission is to share an outstanding coffee while helping the people who grow it in war-torn communities in Rwanda, I pay special attention.
Grown at an altitude of more than 4,800 feet above sea level on the fertile volcanic shores of Lake Kivu, Kivu Noir is a premium single estate Red Bourbon Arabica coffee, touted as “The World’s Freshest.” Communities in this region have been growing coffee since 1904, and thanks to this innovative company they are reestablishing their farming lifestyle after their country was left ravaged by a bloody civil war in the 1990s.
Roasted in the country’s capital of Kigali, this coffee can go from harvest to cup in as little as one month. “We are one of the few companies in the world that roast their beans in their country of origin,” says Kivu Noir co-founder Kevin Mbundu. “Most coffee supply chains involve 11 steps that can take up to two or three years, but we only have five steps and typically take one month to ensure peak freshness. Did you know that 99% of all coffee beans stay in a warehouse for two to three years before they are sent to a roaster? After 12 months a coffee bean has already lost 80% of its flavor. Straight after roasting, we pack our coffee and put it on a flight to our warehouse in Tampa from where we ship it within two days.”
With proceeds from coffee sales, Caferwa has built nursery schools for children who live around the company’s farms, a classroom for farmers to learn new methods of farming as well as accountability in the coffee supply chain, and a medical dispensary at Nkora where farmers and their families can have access to any medication and medical attention they might need.
Since the business model offers direct trade from farm to customer, Kivu Noir can portion a significant amount of money from its sales to farmers, compared to the standard trade of green bean coffee. “With a complete handle of the supply chain, Kivu Noir can plant, harvest, roast, and ship a finished product ready for consumption,” says Mbundu. “This unique structure cuts out the middle men, usually large multinational companies, from the process, which gives Kivu Noir a very personal connection from the farm to the cup.”
Currently Kivu Noir is sold only online, but the website can cater to any client worldwide. As of December 2018 the coffee is also available through Amazon and can ship within two days for Prime customers within the U.S. It will soon be available to the Asian market via Alibaba and its subsidiaries. “With the increasing demand in global online shopping, Kivu Noir will be accessible to millions of coffee drinkers who will benefit from fast deliveries through these platforms to maintain the unique experience of tasting fresh coffee,” says Mbundu. “When the time is right, we will look to partner with cafes, retailers, and traders worldwide.”
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