Despite its turbulent history, today Rwanda is one of
the specialty coffee world’s darlings – for good
reason! Our sister company in Rwanda does an
amazing job of bringing the best that Rwanda has to
offer to roasters around the world.
German missionaries and settlers brought coffee to
Rwanda in the early 1900s. Largescale coffee
production was established during the 1930 & 1940s
by the Belgian colonial government. Coffee
production continued after the Belgian colonists
left. By 1970, coffee had become the single largest
export in Rwanda and accounted for 70% of total
export revenue. Coffee was considered so valuable
that, beginning in 1973, it was illegal to tear coffee
trees out of the ground.
Between 1989 and 1993, the breakdown of the
International Coffee Agreement (ICA) caused the
global price to plummet. The Rwandan government
and economy took a hard hit from low global coffee
prices. The 1994 genocide and its aftermath led to a
complete collapse of coffee exports and vital USD
revenue, but the incredible resilience of the
Rwandan people is evident in the way the economy
and stability have recovered since then.
Modern Rwanda is considered one of the most stable
countries in the region. Since 2003, its economy has
grown by 7-8% per year and coffee production has
played a key role in this economic growth. Coffee has
also played a role in Rwanda’s significant
advancements towards gender equality. New
initiatives that cater to women and focus on helping
them equip themselves with the tools and
knowledge for farming have been changing the way
women view themselves and interact with the world
Today, smallholders propel the industry in Rwanda
forward. The country doesn’t have any large estates.
Most coffee is grown by the 400,000+ smallholders,
who own less than a quarter of a hectare. The
majority of Rwanda’s coffee production is Arabica.
Bourbon variety plants comprise 95% of all coffee trees cultivated in Rwanda.