An emphasis on high-quality Arabica coffee is just gaining a foothold among producers here, as until recently a long established Robusta economy has been more prevalent.
The country itself is the fourth most-heavily populated on the continent & is the second-largest nation in Africa as well. Despite the high population, resources such as roads, potable water & electricity are scarce.
Joachim Munganga, founded SOPACDI in 2003 by restoring a washing station in the area, providing service & market access to the growers in these extremely remote highlands.
Before he undertook this work, farmers had little to no means to transport coffee to the markets & instead were forced to simply barter their coffee locally for food, clothing & necessities.
The cooperative was the first to achieve Fair Trade certification in Congo & the coffee also carries organic certification.
Political & economic unrest over the past few decades has made speciality coffee growing & sourcing a challenge. But projects, organizations & cooperatives such as SOPACDI, are actively working to improve networks & infrastructure to bring top-quality lots to the international market.
Coffee is grown in most of the country, spread throughout its seven provinces & is a significant cash crop (although most of what is grown & exported is either full Robusta or not speciality quality).
However, investment projects & direct-sourcing projects are contributing to a general increase in profile & availability of speciality coffees, so the next few years look very hopeful for Congolese coffees.
Our supplier on the Democratic Republic of Congo:
'We love coffees from the growing regions around Lake Kivu, Burundi, Rwanda & Democratic Republic of Congo.
We find that despite the relatively close geographical area, the lake & it's surrounding landscape has an incredible diversity of micro-climate & profile.
As a result, Congolese coffees are distinct & among our favourites from this area of the world.
The lots we buy from 'SOPACDI' are 'standouts' on our offerings sheet.
We have been able to source more & more coffee from them every year with an eye towards future a future of micro-lot & other projects for development of quality'.
Growing Regions - Ituri, Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu
Common Varieties - Bourbon, Bourbon Mayaguez, other Bourbon derivatives
Processing Method/s - Washed
Harvest Period - March–July (main); September–January (fly)