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A short history of coffee in Rwanda

Coffee plants were introduced to Rwanda by German missionaries in the early 1900s, though the country’s local production would not garner international acclaim until the start of the 21st century.

In the 1990s two crises threatened the future of coffee in Rwanda - the crash of the international coffee market and the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Rather than abandoning the industry a National Coffee Strategy was developed, and international funding and organisations stepped in to support its revitalisation.

Today there are nearly half a million coffee smallholdings in Rwanda and coffee is the country’s fourth largest export. Communal washing stations and government investment in infrastructure, quality control and training have helped Rwandan farmers economise their production and focus on the high quality of their crops.

Gads and Karthick, who founded the Bumbogo washing station, are part of a young generation of thought leaders committed to innovating the coffee industry in Rwanda. Since they returned to Rwanda from New Zealand, where they were displaced during the genocide of 1994, they have been committed to championing Rwandan speciality coffee in the international market.

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