Why Rwanda is full of beans about coffee

Some of the best coffee in the world is grown in the African country of Rwanda, but its population is still a nation of tea drinkers.

Now, a new government campaign is encouraging people to try the results of all their hard work, and drink coffee. Coffee is Rwanda’s leading export, and boosting domestic consumption will help to tap new markets and help introduce coffee culture. As Rwandans currently have very little background in actually drinking coffee, the government feels the new campaign will help to raise awareness of their own product and lead to even better quality. Currently, the country drinks hardly any of its own crop, sending almost 99% of it for export. The few coffee shops the country had to offer were frequented almost exclusively by tourists and expats, but now increasing interest among Rwandan professionals has meant a rise in the number of establishments, as well.

 

The campaign is struggling to overcome entrenched Rwanda culture, though, which means that the vast majority of the population prefer tea to coffee. Coffee is also more expensive than tea, especially ‘artisan’ style coffees bought in cafes.

Coffee from Rwanda is prized globally, especially their top quality arabica beans, and the government has plans to increase production. Rwanda also has its own version of ‘fairtrade’ which sources coffee from cooperatives so that farmers receive a fair price for their crop. Some cooperatives are predominantly run by female growers.

Just as in trendy London coffee bars, drinking coffee is starting to become as much a status symbol as having a good job and a car, and is considered sophisticated among Uwandan professionals – so perhaps it won’t be long before you can order coffee with yak butter!

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