|Origin||90 female farmers affiliated to Kirindera Washing Station, North Kivu, D R Congo|
|Variety||Blue Mountain, Katwai, Rumangaboo
|Notes||Golden Raisin, Blood Orange, Strawberry
Don Santa is back, and this year he has brought us a delicious coffee from a group of female producers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Virunga National Park is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet, and is home to one-third of the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas. The region has been deeply impacted by armed conflict and poaching over the past 20 years, and a small group of brave park rangers are charged with protecting the park, as powerfully documented in the Netflix film Virunga.
The National Park believes that the economic well-being of the people of North Kivu and the conservation of the park go hand in hand. With plentiful sunshine and rainfall, a temperate climate, volcanic soils, and altitudes rising to over 2,000m, the land bordering the park - including the Rwenzori Mountains and the uplands to the north-west of Lake Edward - has the potential to grow some of the finest arabica coffee in the world.
Through the Virunga Alliance the National Park is investing in a number of initiatives to promote the economic regeneration of the region. Significant investment is being made to increase the quantity and quality of the coffee produced in the region, including upgrades to washing station infrastructure, training in good agricultural practices, and the installation of cupping labs.
The farmers in the region are affiliated to two vibrant, young cooperatives - Kawa Kanzaruru on the western flanks of the Rwenzori mountains, and Coopade in the highlands to the north-west of Lake Edward. Of Coopade’s 4,518 members, 38% are women. Its Women’s Section was founded in July 2016 with the objective of allowing female coffee farmers to control and develop their own production through the whole chain, from production to export.
The Women’s Section has built seven of the fifteen Coopade washing stations to date, including the Kirindera washing station that this particular lot comes from.
90 female farmers have contributed to the lot, and they have named it the Kirindera Women’s Peace Coffee for reasons best explained by cooperative member Gisele Kahindo:
“It’s because of the atrocities that have been committed and which continue to be committed in Eastern Congo. It’s so that by growing coffee women can say no to what is happening – and in particular by employing young people we can provide them with an alternative so that they are no longer drawn to join the armed groups that are destabilizing Virunga National Park. We want to see peace for everyone living in D R Congo, and above all for those living on the borders of the Virunga National Park”.
In the cup it is a bright and warming coffee, with a beautiful syrupy texture, and notes of golden raisin, blood orange and strawberry.