This spring, we released our first single origin from the Democratic Republic of the Congo—a delicious washed Bourbon called Congo Umoja grown by a cooperative of smallholder farmers in Eastern Congo. In exploring this new origin for our menu, we’ve not only been able to learn more about the complex history of the region and the rich stories of its people, but to develop a new relationship with an inspiring supplier called Mighty Peace Coffee.
Born out of the Congolese peace movement by an international team of business leaders, coffee experts, community organizers, and human rights defenders, Mighty Peace Coffee is a fully integrated social impact coffee company connecting roasters like us with the highest quality Congolese coffee. In a model they call the Peace Trade, Mighty Peace aims to share the stories of Congolese partners to inspire, educate, and end cycles of poverty and conflict.
In South Kivu, where this coffee is grown, coffee is becoming a symbol of economic stability and prosperity after many years of of violent conflict. Mighty Peace firmly believes that coffee has a major role to play in the future of the region, with specialty coffee agriculture providing community-directed paths from poverty and violence to stability and growth. What follows below are stories directly from some of the farmers who grow Umoja, shared with us by Mighty Peace Coffee.
“There is nothing you can’t do when you have a sustainable income.” – Mrs. Victorina Kanane
In the 10 years farmers have been growing specialty coffee cooperatively, the sale of Umoja has helped to improve the living conditions of its members, providing schooling, housing, jobs and reducing coffee smuggling on Lake Kivu, while promoting gender equity.
“We use several methods to bring out the best flavors…sometimes we cultivate coffee in the mountain which is different than the coffee we cultivate in the valley.” Mr. Lukuye
Umoja farmers produce fully washed coffee, grown in volcanic soil at an altitude of 1,480-2,000 meters, between Lake Kivu and the Mitumba mountain range. The region has a rich tradition of growing specialty coffee, which is reflected in the complex flavors present in Umoja’s complex and sweet profile.
“Nowadays everybody here works and has fields to cultivate, it would be insane to kill or rape your neighbor when we’re pursuing the same purpose.” – Ms. Furaya Zahinda
Conflict has plagued the DRC for decades. Intense competition for control over mining areas led to the proliferation of armed rebel groups in the 90s. Armed groups committed acts of unspeakable violence to destroy the very fabric of a community. The effects of this ongoing war reach every corner of the Congo, and yet many communities are coming together as one to plant the path towards a brighter, safer future.
“I use my earnings to pay my children’s school fees; four of them have finished high school and one is in the third year of nursing college.” – Mr. Sengi Ndambusa
Mighty Peace’s values drive ethical practices that include environmental sustainability, USDA organic certification, the highest labor standards, and a commitment to shift attitudes and approaches to business in the DRC and around the world.
To learn more about this coffee and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, check out our info sheet.