Revitalising Congolese Coffee through Sustainable Practice and Community Engagement
For many Congolese farmers, their way of life is facing extinction. Four short decades ago, their coffee was ranked among the world’s finest, marked with a distinct fruity flavour and nutty aroma. Due to the region’s political instability, their coffee output has seen a massive fall. Coffee exports plummeted from 120,000 tonnes in the ‘70s to a mere 10,000 tonnes in 2002. What used to be the second most important export sector for the Democratic Republic of Congo, has now been reduced to a withering industry.
It wasn’t just their economy that’s facing jeopardy. The community of farmers working the lands over generations are at the risk of losing their lifestyle and income, further reducing their prospects.
Revitalisation, à la Nespresso
This is where Nespresso steps in, with its Reviving Origins programme. The goal of this initiative is to restore coffee agriculture and the local coffee economies all over the world, and in DRC, the efforts are concentrated at Kivu. Here, the environment has the potential to make it one of the world’s greatest coffee regions. Volcanic soils, coupled with a steady amount of rain provide an ideal circumstance growing specialty Arabica coffee. This concerted effort not only increases the farmers’ incomes, but it also enhances the coffee quality and productivity while fostering sustainable farming practices.
The enterprise involves more than 110,000 farmers across the globe. In South Kivu, Nespresso is working with 2,500 farmers with plans to expand the programme across North Kivu, potentially including up to 1,700 organic certified farmers.
Along the serene and fertile shores of Lake Kivu, proud Congolese farmers give to the world an exquisite organic coffee known as KAWAHA ya CONGO, or Hope of Congo. This marks the first organic blend created under the Reviving Origins range. The result? A smooth, fruity and distinctive coffee.
Going beyond the beans
Aside from creating a spectacular cup of coffee and boosting the coffee economy, the project goes above and beyond with plans in place to address the wellbeing and needs of the communities it works with. In partnership with the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), Nespresso is investing CHF 1 million (approx. US$1.1 million) to help bring access to clean drinking water across the region.
On top of that, the partnership seeks to establish one primary and five mobile health clinics that will deliver 13,000 health consultations per year to the local communities that are affected by cholera.
In order to ensure an equitable future, the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Programme is introduced to combat the issue of gender equality in coffee farming, encouraging one woman and one man from each household to participate in the programme. In support of women’s participation in the programme, it also facilitates opportunities for women in leadership roles. The collection and analysis of gender data will help to ensure both women and men are benefitting from the AAA programme.
About Nespresso Reviving Origins programme
Launched in 2019, the Nespresso Reviving Origins programme has tailored their efforts for each region. It kicked off with the introduction of distinctive single-origin coffees from Eastern Zimbabwe, boosting the country’s coffee production from just 500 tonnes in the ‘80s to 15,000 tonnes in 2017. TAMUKA mu ZIMBABWE, or Awakening of Zimbabwe features a complex fruitiness with bright acidity.
In the Caquetá and El Rosario regions of Colombia, the programme has saved their coffee from oblivion after farmers left their lands following a 50-year long conflict. The result of this effort is manifested in Nespresso’s ESPERANZA de COLOMBIA, or Hope of Colombia which offers aromas of yellow fruits with a cereal hint.
Prior to their latest efforts at Kivu, DRC, the programme took to the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda in 2020. There, the initiative took issues such as climate change, poor farming practices and economic hardship into consideration and elevated the quality of the region’s coffee output as a result. The AMAHA awe UGANDA, or Hope of Uganda boasts the rare marriage of sandalwood notes and elegant florals.
Along with the KAHAWA ya CONGO, the aforementioned exquisite coffees will be making a grand return this year.
Click here for a deeper dive into Nespresso’s Reviving Origins programme.
Bonus: From 7th to 27th June, 2021, Nespresso Malaysia is giving out one set of Asia Second Life chopsticks to Nespresso Club Members when they purchase up to 80 capsules, including any of the Reviving Origins coffees! Additionally, with an add-on of another 40 capsules, Nespresso Club Members will receive a set of Caran D’ache fixpencil.