The Story Behind our Rwanda Roast

June 2nd, 2014 by TOMS

Known as “The Land of a Thousand Hills,” Rwanda’s high elevation allows for production of world- class coffees. Farms in the country tend to be smaller in size, allowing our Master Roaster to micro-source premium beans from specialty farmers. Last Fall, we journeyed to Shyara Mountain in Rwanda to see how a roast comes to life. Allow us to introduce you to some of the people behind the cup.

It all starts with sourcing. All of our coffee beans are sourced through direct trade, which means that we work directly with the coffee growers. This way, the farmer sees the most financial benefit from their crop, helping these farmers raise their incomes, strengthening their ability to support themselves and their families through coffee. These farmers are committed to their craft, focused on nurturing some of the most premium beans in the world today.

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The growing conditions in Rwanda are rare and coveted by other growing regions of the world. The country is blessed with a warm, humid climate that also receives adequate rainfall- a necessary characteristic for coffee beans to grow. The high altitude is ideal for producing quality beans- making the hilly terrain a strong variable in the process.

These diverse growing conditions have coffee connoisseurs around the world seeking out premium Rwandan roasts. Our TOMS Roasting Co. Single Origin Rwanda Coffee is packed with crisp citrus notes and flavors of red fruits, featuring a sweet acidity in a medium body. But that’s not even the best part- what really exclusive about our Rwanda blend is the connection to the farmers who sourced the beans. With direct trade, Rwandan growers are connected to their coffee, they own the process from crop to cup and are guaranteed the best prices for their craft. Sourcing our beans from these farmers means stronger support for their families and investing in their coffee farms for the future.

Nathan

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For Nathan, coffee provides a livelihood for his family of 8 children. He has been growing coffee for almost 40 years and is looked to as a role model for other farmers in his community. He utilizes his experience to mentor young farmers and teach them how to look after their coffee farms to produce their best crops. With direct trade practices he has been able to expand his farm and purchase more land for his sons to start their own harvests.

Many farmers never have the opportunity to taste their own coffee or see the finished product. When we showed Nathan a bag of TOMS Roasting Co he couldn’t believe it. He was even more thrilled to know that his coffee would help provide safe water to his country.

Josephine

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Meet Josephine, a no-nonsense mother of eight children who owns the family-operated farm where our Rwanda roast beans come from. Josephine lost her husband in Rwanda’s genocide, but harbored a fierce determination to make a better life for her family. As one of the few female farm owners, she’s turned her operation into one of the best-performing farms in the region.

Regine

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Regine’s role as a cupper is to personally ensure that each batch produces fresh, vibrant flavors. After our beans are sorted and stored in coffee bags, a random sample from each bag is collected for a micro-roast and then cupped for taste. When Regine is not testing the quality of coffee beans you can find her studying- she is currently working towards her Bachelors Degree in Accounting. Working as a cupper has enabled Regine to pay for her classes and put herself through college.

The women hand sorters

It takes a global effort to make a great cup- like the women who hand-sort every bean.  The simplest yet most comprehensive of the sorting methods, the hand sorting process is reserved for high- quality coffees. Hand sorters play a very important role in shaping the final flavor of the roast. These women identify defective beans, searching for unripe and discolored beans and separating them from the quality beans.

Every single bean is examined by a set of human eyes and hands, and the women who sort the beans take pride in knowing that their work will be appreciated all over the world. In Rwanda, sorting is a regarded as a highly valuable skill and these women are proud to support their families and put their children through school with their earnings.

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Can’t get enough of TOMS Roasting Co? Check out our new TOMS Roasting Club- sending you our selection of the finest whole beans every month to help provide clean water for people in need all year round. With every bag of coffee you purchase, TOMS will provide one week of clean water to a person in need. One for One.®