Nespresso invests in coffee revival of Democratic Republic of Congo

Nespresso has announced a long-term commitment to revive the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) coffee industry, under its Reviving Origins program, with the launch of the first organic coffee of the range, Kahawa Ya Congo, in the United States.

“We are very proud to welcome Congo into our Reviving Origins program and we are committed to providing long term support that will help Congolese coffee farmers, and their communities, to rebuild their coffee industry and their local economies,” Nespresso CEO Guillaume Le Cunff says.

In 1980, coffee was the second most important export for the Democratic Republic of Congo, but declined in the early 2000’s due to years of conflict and economic instability that had a devastating impact on the industry.

Volumes have since dropped by 10 times. Kahawa Ya Congo comes from rain-rich volcanic soils along the shore of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nespresso says the area has the potential to be among the world's great coffee regions but has faced extremely challenging conditions recently.

As part of its Reviving Origins program, Nespresso – with global non-profit TechnoServe, the US Agency for International Development, and coffee trader Virunga Coffee/Olam International – started to implement its AAA Sustainable Quality Program in the Kivu provinces in 2019.

Through training and technical support, the program aims to improve coffee quality and productivity, in addition to establishing sustainable farming practices, and increasing farmer income.

Nespresso’s ambition is to increase the number of Congolese farmers participating in the program from 450 today to over 5000 by 2024.

“The coffee farmers we are working with have overcome incredible challenges over the years, and are determined to improve their coffee and in so doing, improve their lives,” says William Warshauer, President and CEO of TechnoServe.

“Through better agronomic and processing techniques, and the engagement of a reliable buyer like Nespresso, these farmers are already increasing their incomes and starting to build a better future for their families.”

Reviving coffee while enabling access to clean water and health support
Decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo have led to many farmers fleeing their homes and abandoning their crops. But coffee agriculture is not the only challenge. Today, 58 per cent of households lack access to clean water systems and 15 per cent of children do not reach their fifth birthday, with preventable and treatable diseases such as water-borne illnesses, acute respiratory infections and malaria among the leading causes.

To support the revival of Democratic Republic of Congo’s coffee farming communities and in partnership with the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), Nespresso is investing CHF 1 million (about US$ 1.1 million) to bring affordable healthcare and access to clean water to communities across South Kivu, contributing to eliminating cholera, a major health issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Through years of fighting and insecurity, Congolese families kept tending to their coffee fields, even after the market disappeared,” says ECI Field Operations Manager Valéry Namuto.

“They kept toiling because they had hope in a brighter future for their families. This new partnership with Nespresso will help secure a meaningful livelihood for skilled Congolese farmers and bring world-class basic services like clean drinking water and affordable healthcare to their communities.”

Twenty-three water access points and six health clinics will be established – one primary and five mobile – which will deliver 13,000 health consultations per year to local communities. This will significantly improve coffee farming communities’ welfare and is part of Nespresso’s holistic approach to reviving the coffee industry in challenging areas.

“Everyone has the right to basic healthcare and clean, safe water, but for many communities in the Kivu region – blighted by years of conflict, instability and economic hardship – these services remain inaccessible or unaffordable. Through the establishment of much-needed water points and health clinics, the Reviving Origins program will positively impact thousands of people and transform lives,” Le Cunff says.

Established in 2019, the Reviving Origins program aims to restore coffee production in regions where it is under threat, bringing back to life some of the “rarest fine coffees for all coffee connoisseurs to discover”. Overall, Nespresso is investing a total of CHF 10 million (about US$11 million) in the Reviving Origins program over a period of five years, from 2019 to 2023.

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