Lets Talk Coffee

Carl Broderick

July 14, 2017

From June 7-11 in Kigali, Rwanda, the Lets Talk Coffee conference united coffee producers with specialty-coffee buyers, government officials, and baristas from across the globe to discuss the pressing issues facing the coffee industry today. The conference featured coffees produced by over 13,000 female coffee farmers from 56 different cooperatives across the country, providing an incredible chance for the downstream coffee industry to meet some of the best coffee producers Rwanda has to offer.

I was invited to the conference in Rwanda to kick off the data collection efforts established by the Relationship Coffee Institute (RCI). SupplyShift’s offline data collection application, translated into the local language, Kinyarwanda, will be used by rural coffee cooperative members to collect data on thousands of coffee farmers across the country. This data will be used to target training and investment opportunities in order to build up the Rwandan coffee industry and bolster the diverse cooperative communities participating in the program. The added value SupplyShift provides is automatically aggregating and analyzing data to provide insights to the Relationship Coffee Institute and cooperatives, to motivate continuous improvement cycles through better visibility and peer comparisons.

I also had the chance to visit one of the 56 cooperatives participating in the Relationship Coffee Institute’s data collection program. The Dukunde Kawa cooperative, which cultivates antique Bourbon varieties on Gakenke district’s productive slopes in northern Rwanda, has more than 2000 members. Over 75% of these members are women. Dukunde Kawa’s land ranges from 1,500 – 2,000 meters above sea level, and with two annual periods of rainfall, the area’s microclimates create a wonderfully complex, distinct environment. The cooperative leadership includes a democratically elected president, an administrative board, a management team and a general assembly that has steadily improved the organization’s agronomic and processing practices. Today, Dukunde Kawa produces exceedingly high quality lots and strives each day to continually maintain both environmental and social best practices.

After a charmingly bumpy ride up the steep slopes of the Gakenke district, the locations brightly painted walls and breathtaking views welcome visitors to one of Rwanda’s most successful coops. Dukunde Kawa is home to a fully integrated processing facility that transitions full red coffee cherries brought in by coop members into fully processed green coffee ready for export and roasting.

I met with the cooperative’s president and one of RCI’s Relationship Coffee Women (RCW) who will be collecting coop member data using the SupplyShift mobile application translated into her native language. She will collect location tagged survey responses, covering everything from the level of education achieved by cooperative households to the amounts of fertilizer used on crops. This data collection program will help foster an atmosphere of improved visibility for participants and, in turn, enable the Rwandan coffee industry to benchmark best practice while catalyzing a new decade of growth within the Rwandan Coffee Sector.

Let’s Talk Coffee® was a one-of-a-kind event platform bringing the Relationship Coffee Model of inclusivity, collaboration, and transparent business to life. Now in its 15th year, Let’s Talk Coffee® builds on a rich history of uniting specialty coffee stakeholders across the globe to bring an exceptional specialty coffee experience to Rwanda.

Carl Broderick

July 14, 2017