Coopérative pour la Promotion des Activités Café (COOPAC) is located in the Rutsiro and Rubavu districts of the Western Province of Rwanda, near Lake Kivu’s steep volcanic slopes. The volcanic terrain, high altitude and heavy rainfall create a perfect environment for producing delicious and exotic Arabica coffee. The cooperative, which began in 2001 with just 110 farmers, now boasts 2,200 members. COOPAC has been Fair Trade Certified since 2003.
COOPAC was founded by native Rwandans. Their comprehensive knowledge about the land, language, culture and community needs enable the farmers to produce a quality coffee bean harvest. The cooperative president, Emmanuel Rwakagara, is driven to create a coffee of superior quality and pursues this relentlessly with cooperative members. Excellent coffee quality and Fair Trade certification have enabled COOPAC to sustain efforts for socio-economic development.
Coffee has long been Rwanda’s largest export, but the genocide of 1994 brought production to a halt. The genocide destroyed the country and with nearly one million lives lost in just 90 days. With assistance from international political bodies and the tremendous courage of the Rwandan people, a degree of stability has been brought back to the country. Members have overcome great obstacles utilizing their agricultural knowledge to sustain their recovering land for the benefit of their community.
COOPAC coffee has a pleasant acidity with grapefruit notes and citric overtones of sweet lemon and lime. In 2007, COOPAC took first place among Rwandan producers in the Eastern African Fine Coffee Association cupping competition and placed third overall with a cupping score of 87. In 2010, they won the Rwanda Cup of Excellence - a strict competition that selects the very best coffees produced from around the country.
COOPAC has invested Fair Trade premiums to provide health care for their members and community. Farm workers and their families now count on access to doctors, medicine, proper nutrition, vaccinations and health education. They are also able to travel to and from their farms safely with improved roads and new bridges.
COOPAC initiated a livestock distribution program where its members were provided with cows and goats and their offspring, once raised, was then distributed to other members. This program was initiated in tandem with an organic conversion program. Fair Trade cooperatives that invest their premium funds in organic certification ultimately receive a higher price incentive for their products.
COOPAC has undertaken a variety of capacity building projects to provide its members with tools to expand and improve their cooperative. Programs focusing on coffee production and preserving the quality of their harvest while fostering sustainable agricultural practices are at the center of the cooperative's business model. They provided management training as well as administrative and financial support. COOPAC also works to promote the equality of women within the cooperative by strengthening partnerships between genders at all organizational levels.
Coffee Farm Information
Location: Western Province of Rwanda
Altitude: 4,921 – 6,233 Feet (1,500 – 1,900 Meters)
Process: Fully washed
Drying: Sun-dried on elevated beds
Harvest: March – August