Good Coffee

By: Jennifer Roberts

Kawa Maber means “Good Coffee” in the local language, and producing good coffee is the overriding ambition of this motivated group of farmers. For decades, coffee from this region was either smuggled across the border to Uganda to be sold as Wugar and Bugisu, or sold to local collectors at low prices. No washed coffee had been offically exported across the Mahagi/Goli border in over 20 years until Atlas’s purchase of Kawa Maber in 2015. With growing interest from coffee buyers and international aid organizations, there is new motivation for producers to revitalize the coffee sector in Eastern Congo. During Atlas’s first visit to North Kivu, the farmers were overjoyed to see a coffee buyer coming to the remote region as a result of their new enterprise.

Kawa Maber was formed in 2012 and quickly grew to over 2,000 members and over 20 micro-washing stations. Atlas is partnering with the non-profit organizations, VECO and Twin, to work with Kawa Maber on improved coffee processing methods, business management, sustainable agriculture, access to finance, and access to market. Technical trainings with Kawa Maber emphasize equal participation of men and women to maximize results. Atlas is cupping coffee with roasters and giving feedback to the remote farmer groups through the Twin and VECO project work. Lack of good export infrastructure — roads, access to containers, and limited dry-mill facilities — continue to challenge this region. But with high elevation and the Bourbon variety, this group has the quality potential to significantly improve farmer livelihoods.

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