Wednesday, November 11, 2015

40. Let's Talk Coffee Rwanda - First Rwandan Latte Art Compeition

Nov. 11, 2015
Serena Hotel, Kigali, Rwanda

Congratulations Sustainable Harvest Rwanda!  A "pat on the back" is due to Marcus Young, Christine Condo, Ruth Coleman, and of course David Griswold, for hosting a fantastic, engaging Latte Art Competition. The first in Rwanda! It was at one of the best hotels in Kigali, the Serena. There were giant screen TVs, there were spotlights, action -- the public was welcome.

I brought my 2 kids and seven friends! But the most important guests at this event were the 100 female coffee producers Sustainable Harvest (with some modest assistance from IWCA) hosted to attend the event and the conference in the following days. Importantly, these 100 producers from Nyaruguru (South) and Kayonz (Eastern) represent 4000 producers "back home." There was hype and it was clear that coffee preparation can be exciting and fun. It was a magical way to say "Dear Rwanda - welcome to the world of Specialty Coffee!"

The significance of this event is by no means small for our research project -- although it is a bit removed, so let me explain. An important objective of the Michigan State University - USAID project (the Africa Great Lakes Coffee, AGLC, project) is to improve productivity and minimize antestia bug problems so as to improve incentives and motivation of Rwanda and Burundi's coffee producers. Another way to state this goal is to say we must help Rwanda & Burundi's value chain focus on the areas where coffee produces value -- namely the specialty coffee sector. In addition to the kind of solid research the USAID project will produce, two BIG things that help are:
  • Opportunities at origin for producers to see specialty coffee marketed and consumed, (i.e. Colombia and Brazil are working very hard to increase coffee consumption within their borders). Rwanda and Burundi can do the same. I've seen it! This process is well underway in both Kigali and Bujambura! (And at LTC!)
  • Motivation often comes from pride. By seeing my product in the spotlight, I have a non-financial motivation to do what I do every day. Pride is not sufficient -- I want to also make that clear, and that is part of the importance of the AGLC project. To clarify the cost of producing quality coffee. But the element of farmer pride is significant and was beautifully captured and understood at this Latte Art Competition event.
At the Serena Hotel: Marlu (NL), Laura (NL), Isaac, Naomi & Ruth (USA), Steena (former barista, S), Anna, Emily and friend (S)

Swedish guest and Eric Hoest, Stumptown, "Talk Coffee"

100 female coffee producers from Nyaruguru and Kayonza were guests.

Devorah Fralach, Equator Coffees & Teas, assisting at the espresso machine.

Contestants in the latte art competition congratulate each other.


The winner jumps with excitement!

Four top latte artists of Rwanda!

David Griswold, Pres. of Sustainable Harvest, gives closing remarks.

Great to see old friends -- Grace Izerwe and Joel Arusha!

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