Congo Coffee Revival: Linking To Mainstream Markets

Contact name: Paul May
Phone: +4402074222880
Project URL:
Although we are a charity, we do not fundraise from the public. However, readers can donate to Twin via the On The Ground Congo Project at:
Organization Name: Twin

Project: Congo Coffee Revival: Linking To Mainstream Markets
Location: The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC)
Additional information on location of project: The Project is based in Minova, a small town on the western shores of Lake Kivu, close to the city of Goma in the eastern highlands of the DRC.
Projected Impact: 5,200

Project Description
Women's committee copyThe Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) eastern highlands provides fertile volcanic soils, shade, and altitudes ideal for specialty grade Arabica coffee. Due to the decade-long conflict in the region, the coffee sector has been denied the chance to realize this enormous potential. To help turn this around, we set out to create links from what many considered a challenging and risky origin to international mainstream markets using a value chain seed to cup approach.

Twin, a United Kingdom based ethical trading organization, formed a consortium with Sainsbury’s, the United Kingdom’s second largest supermarket chain, and Finlays, the United Kingdoms’s largest coffee roaster, to develop a new quality single origin coffee from a burgeoning coffee cooperative with a great deal of spirit – Sopacdi. The consortium brought together a wealth of industry expertise that stretched along the supply chain with the aim of introducing the first single origin from the DRC to the United Kingdom. The three-year project, funded by the United Kingdom AID via its Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund (FRICH), sought to deliver sustainable livelihoods for farmers with a focus on quality and access to high-value markets.

Twin worked in partnership with Sopacdi to manage the supply-side investments, which included farm rehabilitation, quality management, new infrastructure, equipment, processing methods, governance and management capacity, marketing strategies, and training on price risk management and international trade. We also organized trips for Sopacdi representatives to meet buyers at international trade shows, such as SCAA and AFCA. Technical exchanges were also conducted with other producer organizations to increase Sopacdi’s skills, knowledge, and production capacity.

To support female empowerment programs, Twin’s coffee trading business, Twin Trading, negotiates an extra two cents per pound on the sale of Sopacdi coffee. To date, these transactions have raised around 15,000 dollars to support women’s committees and small business ventures run by women. We also pushed for special measures to allow Fair Trade certification in the conflict zone and supported Sopacdi in becoming the first Fair Trade and organic cooperative in the DRC. The Fair Trade premium has funded much needed renovation work to improve processing facilities and increase productivity and quality. For example, we worked with Sopacdi to construct the country’s first modern coffee washing station in 40 years, and provided training on cupping for quality to ensure consistent delivery of the level of quality required by the retailer.

A key milestone in the middle of the project came when a limited edition coffee blend, which included Sopacdi coffee, was launched by Sainsbury’s for Red Nose Day, BBC television’s annual prime time charity fundraising night run by Twin’s partner, Comic Relief. Last year, we saw the launch of a limited edition medium roast Sopacdi Fair Trade coffee in Sainsbury’s stores, as part of their premium Taste the Difference range. Thanks to strong sales and positive media coverage, Sopacdi will be returning to Sainsbury’s this fall. The cooperative has also entered new markets in the United States and Europe, and has also been awarded the Specialty Coffee Association of America Sustainability Award 2014 in partnership with Twin.

Who Will Benefit from This Project?
Djambo Safari Deparchment factory Goma copyWhen we first met with Sopacdi back in 2008, they had only 208 members. Today, Sopacdi is at the forefront of a coffee revival in the DRC and has 5,200 members, including 1,450 women. The benefits have extended beyond Sopacdi’s members to dependents, family members, and the wider community. Sopacdi’s success has also contributed to economic development in the region, especially in neighbouring coffee growing communities. Sopacdi’s exports have dramatically increased from just eight metric tons of coffee in 2008 to 343 metric tons in 2013, and their farm gate price has more than doubled.

We also like to think that consumers and the coffee sector has benefited from learning more about the situation in the DRC because of this project. Twin aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers in developing countries, but also present a fuller picture of what is going on in the coffee industry. We have worked to show another side to the DRC, one of tenacious hard work and achievement, to balance the prevailing media image of sexual violence and conflicts. We hope this positive image and a greater awareness of the DRC as a quality coffee origin translates into even more sales for Sopacdi and other cooperatives in the country.

What You Can Do to Help
You can help by buying, selling, and spreading the word about the fantastic coffee available from Sopacdi – and from the DRC generally. You can buy from a host of traders and retailers, including via our Trading business, Twin Trading ( or via our East African marketing initiative, the JMI (

For those of you looking for a more hands on approach, we are also partnering with the United States non-profit, On The Ground, to organize seven marathons in seven days in the Kivu region of the DRC in May of 2015. If you are feeling too physically unfit, you can still donate directly via their website ( The event aims to not only raise money, but also challenge people’s preconceptions about what is possible in the DRC.

Proceeds will go to fund women’s empowerment projects in coffee communities in the region implemented by Twin. Projects will include support for women in accessing land, have a stronger voice within producer organisations, and set up small business beyond coffee.

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