We have to admit, if there is one offer we are really proud of, it is our Congo coffee!
When we first visited the Kivu area three years ago, we immediately noticed that it had almost everything it takes to produce good coffee – except the means. We all know how it works: if you produce crappy coffee, you get paid crappy prices, and you’re left with nothing to invest and raise the bar.
One day we met Léopold, our contact in the region. He manages several washing stations. We had come to him as potential buyers for his green coffee. We cupped the samples and noticed the potential the coffee had. At the same time the flavor instability was obvious. It was -as we quickly learned- the result of varying processes being used inconsistently, and an unstructured way of working. On the other hand he was facing a number of challenges, the biggest of which were budgetary.
With the help of the Belgian NGO Veco we started a cooperation. We agreed on an eventual price that was much higher than what he used to get – but also demanded much higher standards. We invested in training, found a prepayment solution, started to separate the lots, worked on various processes,….
Are we there yet?
Of course not, there is still a host of other issues to solve. Not so much in quality as in quantity. The aim is to increase the volume of top quality coffee, as the volume they produce today with a rating of 86+ is still too low compared to the total capacity.
And what about that potato defect?
To me the Congolese coffees, together with Rwanda and Burundi are one of the most underestimated coffees and why is that? Well they still struggle with their imago of potato defect. Once upon a time this was a huge defect that was very present in a lot of those origins. This defect causes a potato, earthy taste that is very dominant. Due to poor equipment, infrastructure and lack of interesting buyers this once was a very frequent defect. Many potential buyers decided not to take the risk and today farmers in the region are still suffering from this image. However since a few years a lot of efforts were made to work on this. Today the never ending selection process has solved the majority of this. Does this mean you will never have a potato defect in your coffee. Of course you might have a single defect bean in a bag, after all coffee is an organic product, every cup coming from this origin has this risk, the frequency however is very low today thanks to their efforts in selection. However I think that coffees with this very special, distinct profile are worth the small risk.
In our coffee shops, our barista’s are informed about this potential defect. If they ever detect the smell that is very present after grinding, they throw away that portion of coffee but this delicious origin is worth taking the small risk.
Transparency is key, and we try to be as transparent as possible. Below you will find the price breakdown for our Congo coffees.
Our Congo coffees are 100% organically produced, but because of the cost of certification they are not certified. First things first: we decided that quality is a higher priority than certification.
The coffees in this region have a huge potential and a very specific flavor profile with intense fruity notes, berries, and cherries; bright with a rather high acidity.
Would you like to join us on our next Congo origin trip in November?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +32 475 97 46 94