Monday, September 25, 2017

Paying Women Coffee Producers Their "Due"

25. September 2017
Therese UWIMANA - President of Ejo Heza

At Artisan Coffee Imports we're proud to celebrate International Coffee Day on September 29, with the announce- ment of a ground-breaking partnership with a women's cooperative in Rwanda - the Ejo Heza cooperative (a group under the umbrella of KOPAKAMA) in Rutsiro, Western Province.

This 2017 harvest year, Artisan Coffee Imports signed a contract with the cooperative, co-signed by Therese UMWIMANA, the president of Ejo Heza, agreeing to pay a 30 cent premium on each kilogram of green coffee Artisan purchases (= 13.6 cents/lb. green coffee). This amount of money will be awarded to all the women of the Ejo Heza group on top of the second payment all the members of the KOPAKAMA cooperative receive. The premiums will be awarded at Ejo Heza's general assembly held every year in October.

Ruth Ann Church, Artisan's president and "chief relationship officer", still remembers the day in early May 2017 when she negotiated this contract (through a translator) with Ms. UWIMANA and Frederic HAKIZIMANA, the director of the KOPAKAMA washing station. "I'm sure it's the first time any Westerner had requested Therese to be present in a business meeting to negotiate contract terms," Church says. "The discussion got deep into the tiny details of dollars per KG and Rwandan franc per lb. parchment. I remember being concerned for Therese, whose daughter was very ill and Therese herself looked sick with worry. She had to leave her baby with a friend to come meet us. But she brightened up when we put the numbers into terms she knew very well."

"This will result in paying you and the Ejo Heza women 40 RWF/KG cherry," Church explained when she finally had enough figures in her spreadsheet to make the calculation.  UWIMANA's eyes grew wide. The price per kilogram of cherry in Rwanda this season was around 270 RWF/KG. A common premium for cherry in Rwanda is 22 RWF/KG cherry (8% of base price), and only about 20% of farmers in Rwanda ever see any premium at all. So not only is Artisan re-enforcing KOPAKAMA's "best practice" of paying a premium, Artisan is paying the women close to double what many farmers receive as a second payment.

"I could see some of the care and concern melt away from Therese's face when I told her that number,"  Church says. "It was wonderful to see it replaced with her beautiful smile!"

For samples of this amazing coffee, contact Artisan Coffee Imports via their contact page, or call seven-three-four, 717-6278.

Ruth Ann Church with Therese and Olive & beautiful Rwandan horizon!
Coffee cherry picked by Therese

Beatrice, Olive and Therese - leaders of Ejo Heza

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Selection of delicious new crop Rwandan!

19. September, 2017
September - pre-shipment samples in Michigan.
We cupped pre-shipment samples today of the incoming crop of Rwanda Ejo Heza coffee from KOPAKAMA cooperative, Rutsiro district, in western Rwanda. [See blog posts here to learn more about this cooperative.] The cups were good! Samples approved! Excited to be able to share samples of these delicious cups of apricot, cedar, rose-hip tea and clove-spiced aftertaste with roasters, soon!

The plots of coffee come from along Lake Kivu. We cupped two types, some from the Mushubati washing station and grown by the Ejo Heza women's cooperative, and others from the Nyagatari washing station -- both of these belong to the KOPAKAMA cooperative which has a total of about 700 members. The Ejo Heza women are about 300 total.

Back in June 2017, when Ruth Ann was in Kigali, she cupped several coffees from KOPAKAMA and other cooperatives, and selected the Ejo Heza Lot B and the Nyagatari for import. The sweet taste of pineapple, mango and orange mixed with clove were delightful! Scored at least an 86. That was a fun day at the wonderful Starbucks lab in Kigali. For those of you who don't know, Starbucks offers the coffee industry in Rwanda (all of East Africa, really) a wonderful resource by fully staffing an excellent lab in Rwanda's capital city, Kigali. They regularly host cuppings and meetings for all types of coffee companies, even direct competitors. Kudos to Starbucks!

That was the easy part! The contracting, financing and shipping arrangements take months of international coordination after the initial coffee selection. Finally, three and half months later, the pre-shipment samples arrived and I was able to cup them today. In another two months (end of November), coffee should be at the port in New Jersey. Some of it will be shipped to the Annex in Oakland, CA.

We are bringing in 80 bags of the KOPAKAMA Ejo Heza Lot B for spot sales. Call to get YOUR NAME on the list for arrival samples today! 734-717-6278.
June 2017 - Starbucks cupping lab - Kigali, Rwanda

June 2017 - Starbucks lab staff are the best!

Ruth Ann and Olivier GASHEMA of Misozi Coffee - Q grading samples.