Founded in 2000, The Dukunde Kawa Musasa Cooperative cultivates its high-quality coffee near a mountain gorilla habitat at around 1,800masl, in Rwanda’s rugged North-West. By producing high-end coffee for the international market and employing a majority female workforce, the cooperative ensures maximum benefits to local families. In 2003, it built a washing station with funds provided by the Rwandan ministry of defense. In exchange for this support, the Dukunde Kawa donates 10 percent of its net profits annually to fund the construction of other washing stations throughout Rwanda.
Fairtrade Certified since 2004, Dukunde Kawa secures a high standard of living for Rwandan farmers by ensuring access to an economically and environmentally sustainable coffee industry. Before the proliferation of washing statiuons such as those owned by the co-op, the norm in Rwanda was for smallholder farmers to sell semi-processed cherries to middle- men, bringing low prices and severe hardship to farmers. Today it’s a different story: farmers who work with the co-op have seen their income at least double.
Eighty percent of Dukunde Kawa’s producers are women. Each member has been able to buy a farm animal, and many now have health insurance for the first time. Dukunde Kawa also constructed 2 schools for local children in 2006 and provides members with long-term credit at no interest. Many farmers renovated their homes and now all members’ homes have tile rather than grass roofs.
The Art of Production
Ripe cherries are hand sorted and floated to separate by density, selecting only the highest quality for processing.
The cherries are then dried in the sun on raised African beds for 20-25 days, allowing many of the sugars from the fruit to transfer into the bean, giving the coffee a sweet and jammy profile. During this period the cherries must be constantly turned and sorted to ensure consistent drying and prevent over-fermentation. Specialty natural processing is somewhat unusual for Rwanda, which has seen a surge in fully washed processing since the year 2,000.
Gakenke district lies in North West Rwanda near the Volcanoes National Park, home to 1 of only 3 populations of endangered mountain gorillas in the world. Like much of Rwanda - “the land of a thousand hills” - the terrain is mountainous, rugged and exceptionally beautiful. Rich volcanic soils, plentiful sunshine, and tropical rainfall provide exceptional conditions for the cultivation of arabica, and the Bourbon variety particularly excels in the high elevations of Rwanda’s mountains.