The Muungano cooperative is located over three hours south of Goma, on a questionable dirt road on the Western shore of Lake Kivu.
Founded in 2009, Muungano Cooperative is comprised of around 4,400 smallholder farmers, nearly half of them women. Gender justice is a principal focus of the members, as is integrating farmers from different ethnic groups into the operation. The word “Muungano” actually means “Togetherness” in the Swahili language. When our importing partners Atlas Coffee Importers first visited the group in 2013, they were milling coffee on equipment from the early twentieth century, but still managed to produce the best Congo coffee they’d ever tasted. Since then, they have installed two new washing stations, a new cupping lab and have a trained roaster and cupper on staff. The fruits of their hard work are evident in the sweet, bright, and complex coffees they produce every year.
Despite the many challenges faced by coffee producers in the DRC, the co-op members are remarkably focused, professional, and upbeat.
Muungano cooperative members are remarkable for their eagerness to learn what they could do to deepen our commercial relationship improve the quality of their production. A visit to Muungano is a great reminder of how hard these growers work to produce their coffee – often with incredibly limited infrastructure, and in very difficult circumstances. Atlas was extremely proud to be one of the very first importers in North America to offer this exceptional coffee. In 2017, Muungano also obtained their organic certification, opening new doors to sustainable specialty coffee markets.