Dance, Dance, Dance: Rwanda 2012
It is good to be back in Rwanda.

It has been two years since Counter Cultures last buying trip to Rwanda, and I must say it has been too long. Of course, there was good reason behind this, and it wasn't because we didn't want coffee from Rwanda.

Up until late 2009, Rwanda was one of the places we were traveling to the most. We had been working with a few cooperatives in the south, east, and west and had been purchasing those coffees jointly with another coffee roaster. Long story short, all the cooperatives but one suffered from mismanagement that eventually led to bankruptcy. On top of that, the amount of great coffee in the 2009/2010 season was so small that there was only enough for one roaster to take it. We ended up stepping back and focussing our efforts in Burundi.

This past year when we carried coffee from Bufcafe, we knew it was time to go back to refocus in Rwanda.

In conversations leading up to my trip, I started talking with two folks at Fair trade USA – Richard Sandlin and Ben Schmerler – who were going to be in Rwanda at the same time and asked if I wanted to join them on their travel. On top of that, Fair Trade USA was bringing with them Zachary and Jordan from Sprudge.com, so how could we turn that down.

[I don't want to get into the giant debate about Fair Trade USA vs. Fairtrade Labelling Organization going on right now, but I will say that in no way did my trip with them align Counter Culture to Fair trade USA or not align us, either. It was just a good opportunity to travel with professionals whom I respect in different facets of coffee. I say this because I have already received questions over my travel and want to make sure that people understand.]

The trip itself was one of the most fruitful trips I have been on recently. I visited three cooperatives that we have been very interested in, and spent a full day with Bufcafe and another privately owned company called Coopac. Not only did I talk about the future with many of the people I met with, we worked on coffee for this year exclusive to Counter Culture, and now have some super-exciting coffees that will be headed our way soon.

Between eating amazing food, getting terribly sick, drinking strange drinks (look through the set), and dancing more times in one week than I have in the last three years, I found myself thinking there's no chance I won't be back in Rwanda next year.

Check out the whole set … lots of good stuff coming our (and your) way.

-Tim
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