Updated: Jan 3
We have an ever-evolving coffee selection process here at Palma which is normally comprised of sampling in-season single origins that not only sound exquisite but that are remarkable and should be showcased, coffees that stand out from the rest.
In this last month of trying coffees, we came across some killer single origins from Africa,
we tried four different coffees form Burundi which quickly sold out at Sweet Maria's
and an amazing North Kivu washed organic from the Democratic Republic of Congo which perfectly fit in our line up.
While preparing the research for this subject, I grabbed James Hoffman's World Atlas of Coffee and was quick to find that there is no DRC section in it. I looked at other coffee literature and still couldn't find any information about this origin, so I decided to do the work myself and share it.
It is no secret that the Democratic Republic of Congo has suffered from violence and war in the last decades. Multi-lateral, multi-faceted violence and corruption that prevents progress and stability. But I'll avert that subject, because as a Colombian, I know how frustrating it is to have your country reduced to the idea of violence and murder. Instead, I want to touch base on some of the opportunities that specialty coffee is currently providing for DRC coffee producers, both in the private sector and by the government.
In 2012, the DRC government launched the Strategy Document for the Recovery of the Coffee Sector 2011–2015, it set aside US $100 million for investment in the domestic coffee
industry. Many positive joint efforts have taken place, including market access, renovation of crops and infrastructure, and measures to counter smuggling. These efforts seem to have paid off. In 2011, there were only seven washing stations in the country. As of 2018, there are over 100. more about this from Mercanta.
Some of the private companies doing the work on the ground are companies like Virunga Coffee Company Virunga's primary goals have been to help increase production and the overall quality of the coffee through investment in infrastructure like wet mills and raised drying beds, farmer outreach and access to the global market.
The more and more that I learn about the nuts and bolts of specialty coffee production around the world, the more parallels I find between the producing countries. The access to technical education seems to enable coffee producers to truly understand the worth of their product and equip them for success. I believe all coffee producers are entrepreneurs who benefit from being knowledgeable not only in production but in marketing, business development, finances, etc. It is great to see organizations providing this access to information.
Congolese coffees have a wide range of flavor notes, they can feature a heavy creamy body, deep berry tones, hints of mandarin orange and stone fruit, cantaloupe, vanilla, and hazelnut amongst others. Most coffee is produced in South or North Kivu. In North Kivu, the subregion of Isale is located just north of the regional capital of Butembo, on the outskirts of the Virunga National Park. The region has excellent conditions for speciality arabica production with plentiful rainfall, high altitude and highly fertile volcanic soils.
Though still suffering its share of challenges, the Democratic Republic of Congo has hope. Government and private initiatives will continue to fight alongside the local coffee producers, and the more that DRC coffee is drank around the world, the more systemized and stable that this approach can be. This is why we have decided to highlight this incredible origin with our newest DRC Single Origin "Isale" a certified organic coffee processed with the help of Virunga Coffee Company mentioned previously, available in our SHOP starting 4/22!