Kivu Noir Coffee Champions Freshness And Social Initiatives In Rwanda

By The Inspirer

Kivu Noir employs women survivors from the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.KIVU NOIR

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.

Kivu Noir coffee grows on the volcanic slopes that surround Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s deepest body of water.KIVU NOIR

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.”

Young entrepreneur Kevin Mbundu co-founded Kivu Noir after graduating from business school at the University of Tampa.KIVU NOIR

Mbundu, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Finance from the University of Tampa, developed a business model that fosters a strong commitment to support and empower local women and their communities, many of whom survived the genocide against the Tutsi. The women pick and sort the coffee cherries by hand to select only the best and ripest, thus ensuring the best quality possible. Caferwa, Kivu Noir’s production company in Rwanda, uses a hydropower plant that generates energy at the bean washing stations. The waste extracted during the washing process is saved to be used as compost for newly planted coffee trees. These practices help minimize energy and water consumption while reducing waste.

At the bean washing station, a hydropower plant generates sustainable energy.KIVU NOIR

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.

With proceeds from coffee sales, Kivu Noir built a school for children of local farmers.KIVU NOIR

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.”

Kivu Noir comes in one-pound bags of whole or ground coffee, available for purchase online.KIVU NOIR

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.”

Source: Forbes 

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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