This is our third year purchasing coffee from Sundog Trading Company and Muzo Station owner/Founder of Baho Coffee Emmanuel Rusatira.
We were introduced to Emmanuel by the kind souls at 1000 Faces. Ben Bowdoin started Sundog Trading just to get coffees from Baho to the U.S. and into good homes. Our first conversation with Emmanuel via Whatsapp was wonderful, deep, and rich, and we had an instant connection! He shared his heart through his story and we are so grateful for that vulnerability and for the work he’s doing in Rwanda to ensure producers are getting paid a fair wage for their coffees.
What Muzo washing station lacks in size, it makes up for in big, dynamic coffee flavors! 496 producers contributed to Muzo’s coffee export this year, and Baho Coffee considers them to be among the best and rarest of their annual offerings. We taste red plum, clover honey, and nutmeg with a dried fruit aftertaste.
You may remember our Fuji Ikizere Women offerings from last year; this year Emmanuel expanded the traceability initiative “Ikizere,” which means “confidence” in Kinyarwanda, from Fuji washing station to Muzo.
Unified by their shared experiences as heads of households in a patriarchal Rwandese society, the Ikizere Women producer group is comprised of widowed women and single mothers. Through supporting the Ikizere project, we hope to aid in developing a stronger sense of community between the women, in continuing the flow of economic and physical resources to this group, and in creating a platform upon which their voices can be heard.
Rwanda: Coffee was brought to Rwanda in 1904 and was commercialized in the 1930s under Belgian colonial rule. From the 30s to the late 1990s, most of the coffee produced in the area was produced in a low-quality/high-volume model, and for a significant amount of time, Rwanda’s coffee sector has been controlled by one or two major buyers.
Over time and with the standardization of farmgate prices, coffee quality has improved and producers have begun to make more money. But Rwandese farmers often make little off of their labor overall, as most profits benefit major multinational companies.
Emmanuel is one of a very small group of Rwandese people who are exporting their own coffee; this means that profits are remaining within the country and are being reinvested back into people and communities. There is a deep level of commitment and respect between Emmanuel, his employees, and the farmers who deliver to Baho stations. Unlike many multinational companies, Emmanuel is directly invested in the future of his own country.
Baho provides substantial resources to the farmers they work with, including production and harvest skills training, insurance contributions, physical resources like fertilizers and seedlings, and practical resources like transportation.
Emmanuel explains that Baho’s vision of community is guided by having a synergetic relationship with the community of farmers that they work with. “Our overall vision is implied by the meaning of our name, Baho, which in our local language means live/life. It is like a tree that grows up and has branches, flowers, and fruits and still keeps its roots in the ground.”
*IF you would like this coffee ground, please specify brew method in comments.