We were first introduced to husband and wife team Chris Rugira and Divine Mutuyimana (founders of Tropic Coffee) when visiting Rwanda in 2018 as a member of the international tasting jury for that year’s Cup of Excellence competition.
Divine grew up working in coffee for her family’s company which sourced from cooperatives across the country. She saw a real need for better data management from farm level to export to bring about better traceability and reward for producers. She therefore completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science, creating software that streamlined the flow of data and improved business efficiency. A couple of years later she met Chris who was an agro-climate specialist - a match made in heaven, they joined forces to establish washing stations in three different regions in Rwanda to bring about better quality and pricing models for producers surrounding these areas.
One such station is Cyato (Chee-ar-toe), located in the region of Nyamasheke on the shores of Lake Kivu. This washing station processes cherries from the surrounding community located around the amazing Nyungwe forest. Coffee here is produced organically with a reliance on the local honey bee population to pollinate the Bourbon coffee trees which are interplanted with shade trees, cassava and bananas.
The Rwanda Project
In partnership with our wholesale customer Baltzersens in Harrogate, we have sponsored the preparation of 8 hectares of land which has since been planted with 20,000 coffee trees to be distributed amongst 20 young people from the local area (children of producers at the Cyato washing station) who will be supported with harvesting assistance, organic compost and agronomy training in an effort to establish opportunities for them in their hometown – removing the need to migrate to urban areas in search of what are thought to be opportunities that will offer a more certain and viable future than coffee.