Rwanda's Coffee History

Rwanda's Coffee History

Leah Abdallah

Rwanda was late to the coffee game, only receiving its initial coffee plants during the early 1900s, it then took about 3 decades for the country's coffee production to gain momentum.

At first, although there was an abundance of coffee, the quality remained poor. The coffee beans cultivated were mainly lower-grade variety, because of the stringent requirements put in place by the colonial government prior to the country's independence in the mid-1900s.

Coffee became a crucial sector of the country's economy, accounting for a significant portion of its exports and providing livelihoods for many farmers.

However, Rwanda faced even more turmoil in the spring of 1994, when 800,000 to 1 million people were brutally killed during just a few months. The genocide was sparked by longstanding ethnic tensions and political instability in the country.

During the genocide, the coffee industry collapsed as the violence and chaos disrupted agricultural activities and destroyed infrastructure. Coffee plantations were abandoned, and farmers either fled or were killed. The entire supply chain, including processing facilities and export networks, was severely disrupted.

Following the genocide, Rwanda had a massive job on its hands - rebuilding the economy and society from the ground up. Among the sectors that desperately needed rehabilitation was the coffee industry. Fortunately, both the government and international organizations understood just how crucial it was to revive this sector for the country's economic recovery and poverty alleviation. They recognised that a thriving coffee industry could bring about positive changes and opportunities for the people of Rwanda.

As time went by, all the hard work started paying off big time! The Rwandan coffee industry slowly but surely bounced back and grew like crazy. Thanks to better farming techniques, more money pouring in, and strong connections to the market, Rwanda has become a major player in the world of top-notch specialty coffees.

Nowadays, Rwandan coffee is highly respected and loved worldwide, playing a significant role in boosting the country's economy and opening doors of opportunity for farmers and their communities. 

Taste the journey

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