Congo is one of the most dangerous and difficult places from which to source coffee. Equal Exchange made a lot of progress in the past three years in getting coffee out of the country, and each year the quality has been improving. We sampled some Congo about 5 years ago and it was some of the worst coffee we've ever tasted, to the point that we still joke about a coffee being "bad, but not Congo bad!" It was more about helping the cause than it was that we were excited about the coffee itself.
But Congo has made it! This year's crop is very nice. It made it to the US via the Virunga Coffee Company, which is a South African group of businessmen who have gone into the DR Congo and set up a Fair Trade co-op of roughly 6000 farmers. Through investing, education, and marketing, they have brought the world some crops Congo should be proud of.
The best coffee in Congo is growing around Lake Kivu, which is the same Lake Kivu that Rwanda grows great coffee around (just on the other side of the lake). These are bourbon varietal beans grown at 3000-4000 feet altitude on the Nyiragongo volcano right beside the lake. This is the honey-processed lot, and you have to roast it carefully. Lots of airflow and barely roast it past the end of the first cracks. 10-15 seconds after the cracks stop, you're done. It has a lot of lemon and floral notes with a strong honey taste. No earthiness or defects noted in the aftertaste.
This is the January 2023 arrival.
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