One of the effects of working with a breadth of NGOs as we source coffee around the world, is that we see the connectivity in intent and spirit in the work that they do. Another beneficial side-effect is we enjoy the company of like-minded companies—companies who support these NGOs through the purchase of goods, or by being side by side and elbows-deep in improving our global community.
It’s only fitting that the genesis of our Summer African coffee focus began with a four-year collaboration with CTC International on our Café Ubuntu Blend coffee and this thought: what if a group of like-minded organizations got together with a singular purpose?
CTC Executive Director Zane Wilemon invited us to join Whole Foods Market®, Alaffia, Madécasse, and Whole Planet Foundation, and NGOs supporting economic and social development in Africa to engage consumers on a deeper level about the challenges facing African communities—most deeply effecting women and children.
Over the summer months we are participating in a road show of sorts—a collaboration of extraordinary leaders and leadership both online and at in-person events that focus on Africa through an exploration of information, education and entertainment. At the same time we are focusing on coffees that are sourced throughout East-Central Africa, along with the NGOs working in this area.
Our goal for this endeavor is simple—we invite you to enjoy your daily cup and participate in the advancement of our African neighbors—the source of these wonderful brews.
The history of Kenya is chaotically woven, including a seven-week period in 2007 that is marked by economic destruction and genocide. In the aftermath, CTC International has worked in Kenya to provide opportunity for communities to meet the needs of daily life. CTC focuses on education, environment, economy, health, and community development to directly improve the community as a whole.
In 2011 we developed Café Ubuntu Blend, in honor of the Kenyan philosophy, Ubuntu—meaning “I am because we are.” We also supported the construction of Café Ubuntu—a café in Kenya that is a popular stop for travelers and a valuable source of income for the community. This light roast features coffees from the East Africa Great Lakes Region (which includes Kenya), and has delightful notes of dried fruit and citrus. To support our friends at CTC, we donate 10¢ to them for every bag of Café Ubuntu Blend purchased.
The coffee world loves Ethiopia as it’s the birthplace of coffee. Ethiopians have a reverence for coffee, enjoying it communally with great ritual. Many amazing coffees are sourced from Ethiopia, allowing the opportunity for coffee to be a game changer in the development and awareness of this ancient land.
Ethiopia is challenged with the after-effects of a history of famine, clan clashes, and economic frailty. Girls are the most vulnerable--victimized by sexual violence, and the process of early marriage, which often deprives them of the opportunity for education and economic independence. Girls Gotta Run uses the sport of running, and education to empower girls and their communities by fully-funding annual scholarships to school-age young women.
For our Blue Nile Blend, we use coffee that has been sourced via Rocko Mountain. The purchase of which helps support Girls Gotta Run. This complex coffee offers deep berry and spice notes.
The atrocities of ethnic genocide that occurred in Rwanda in 1994 are well-known. Even Hollywood got its say with the 1994 release of the film Hotel Rwanda. For those who fled the devastation the ’94 genocide, many died due to continued violence, water borne illness, and the resulting war with the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly, Zaire). The turn-around from such a long history of strife has been accelerated in recent years by the work of these organizations.
Women for Women International believes strong women build strong nations. A portion of their work brings women from war-torn environments together in safe space to learn life, vocational and business skills. During this tutelage the women receive a stipend—a necessity to keep them alive while learning. Sustainable Harvest Rwanda uses the vehicle of coffee to support the work of Women for Women, and the development of Rwanda through a project that educates and improves the lives of 3,500 women coffee farmers.
We support the work of these organizations through the importing of our Rwanda Nkora Akeza coffee through Sustainable Harvest. The resulting coffee is a richly-flavored light roast coffee with notes of toffee, fig, melon, and tart cherry.
Congo: As part of the 1994 conflict in Rwanda, millions of Rwandans fled to Zaire (now, Congo). This area is perhaps the most violence-stricken of East-Central Africa. Despite a multitude of peace treaties and international involvement, the past two decades have yielded more than a sobering five million victims to sexual violence, child enslavement as soldiers, abject poverty, and disease.
In 2010 ECI was founded by Ben Affleck (yes, that Ben Affleck). ECI is an advocacy and grant-making initiative for the development of the people of eastern Congo. They do this through increasing public and private funding to support citizen and community development, raising public awareness, and driving policy changes to increase US involvement in Congo.
We pay a premium for our triple-certified Organic Congo SOPACDI. This premium helps to provide economic stability for the female coffee farmers in this cooperative. Organic Congo SOPACDI has notes of Iime, green apple and blood orange making for a light roast coffee that is bright and crisp.
We invite you to learn more about these organizations and their work in Africa.
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