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 coop 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 “Together-ness” in the Swahili language. When Atlas Coffee Importers first visited the group, they were milling coffee on equipment from the early twentieth century, but still managed to produce the best Congolese coffee they had 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 labour 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, with an incredible eagerness to learn and improve the quality of their production. A visit to Muungano is a great reminder of how hard growers work to produce their coffee – often with incredibly limited infrastructure, and in very difficult circumstances. Atlas is extremely proud to be one of the very first importers in North America to offer this exceptional coffee, and Discovery is proud to be working with the co-op for the second year in a row, hopefully of many to come! In 2017, Muungano also obtained their Organic certification, opening new doors to sustainable specialty coffee markets. In 2018 they started producing natural-processed coffee in small volumes and were some of the nicest natural-processed coffees we’ve ever cupped! Which is why we’ve brought this natural coffee in this year.