The story of how we came about to sourcing our coffee from Rwanda is really a tale of an amazing woman owned coffee importing business and her connection to women owned cooperatives in Rwanda. It starts at the Coffee Fest Show in Baltimore back in 2018. I was attending one of their seminars at their show. The topic was sourcing green coffee and one of the things I noticed in the conference room was that out of about 80-100 people, there was just a handful of women in attendance. I was just starting out at Prep and had just installed my commercial roaster. I was ready to expand my sourcing options. As I was leaving the event, I met a few amazing ladies who had attended the event. One was RuthAnn Church, the founder of Artisan Coffee Imports and board member of the International Women's Coffee Alliance. She had wondered if I had been a coffee roaster and wanted to introduce herself to me as a fellow woman coffee business owner. She told me about her business and how she goes to Rwanda to help the ladies of the Ejo Heza Cooperative. She provides them with consultation in helping them grow high quality coffee that is grown sustainably and importantly, is profitable to help them meet their needs. Her specialty is connecting these ladies with coffee roasters here in the U.S. and one day she found me! We kept in touch and she sent samples of the coffee to me. It was fantastic. I decided to go ahead and purchase their coffee. This was my largest purchase of green coffee ever at that time and it was a good thing that I had, because this had become my most popular coffee ever. I was so pleased by the results of this coffee that I decided to entire it into the Golden Bean contest in Portland that year in the pourover category. We ended up getting a bronze metal for it! I was so excited to share this news with RuthAnn and the ladies of the Ejo Heza Cooperative. Today I continue to work with RuthAnn and she introduced me to another cooperative in Rwanda called the Rambagira. This is what we currently have in stock. This cooperative of women was formed in 2012 and has supported 70 women. We are so pleased to pay a premium on this coffee which goes directly to these ladies. Over the holiday season, we were excited to get a special gift in the mail from RuthAnn, an Agaseke basket which was hand made by one of the members of the cooperative. We have is hanging in our shop, so make sure you stop by to see it!
photo credit: Artisan Coffee Imports