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Faces Behind Your Coffee: Exploring the world of coffee farmers and beyond in Rwanda

Full photo story article with photos and text
10 photos, 1,200 words

I have a first person account of visiting the coffee cooperatives in the Lake Kiva region of Rwanda. Below find an excerpt from the first paragraph of the article. Accompanied by powerful imagery.

When you stop in for your morning cup of coffee, be it a single origin drip coffee, a cappuccino or any variation of hot or cold coffee drinks, we tend to forget that we are drinking an amazing substance that is grown and produced thousands of miles away.

As a photojournalist I was on a journey to the “land of a thousand hills” in the Lake Kivu region of Rwanda to see for myself the origin of coffee in this small African country. Rwanda is one of a few countries in the world where the coffee bean is grown. Rwanda’s coffee industry dates back to 1904 when German missionaries introduced it in the country. In the 1930’s under Belgium influence they started full-scale production. Unlike Ethiopia there isn’t a tradition of drinking coffee here. Rwandans were dissuaded from drinking the coffee in the 30’s when the industry began most likely because it might have slowed up production of this money crop.

Click any photo to start gallery:

  • GISUMA coffee Cooperative  Some of the women farmers picking coffee cherries from their trees  Cyangugu, Rwanda
    GISUMA coffee Cooperative Some of the women farmers picking coffee cherries from their trees Cyangugu, Rwanda
  • GISUMA coffee Washing Station, Drying, sorting and tossing the beans in the Lake Kiva region of Rwanda, Africa
    GISUMA coffee Washing Station, Drying, sorting and tossing the beans in the Lake Kiva region of Rwanda, Africa
  • GISUMA Coffee Washing Station, Drying, sorting and tossing the beans  A Rwandan woman day worker sorting the coffee beans
    GISUMA Coffee Washing Station, Drying, sorting and tossing the beans A Rwandan woman day worker sorting the coffee beans
  • Gashonga coffee washing station, Cyangugu, Rwanda  Sorting the coffee beans before they are washed and the parchment is removed ©2015 Ilene Perlman
    Gashonga coffee washing station, Cyangugu, Rwanda Sorting the coffee beans before they are washed and the parchment is removed ©2015 Ilene Perlman
  • Genocide Widows collective within the Gashonga coffee Cooperative   Cyangugu, RwandaWidows from the genocide in Rwanda banded together to grow coffee and support themselves with a living wage
    Genocide Widows collective within the Gashonga coffee Cooperative Cyangugu, RwandaWidows from the genocide in Rwanda banded together to grow coffee and support themselves with a living wage
  • Genocide Widows collective within the Gashonga coffee Cooperative   Cyangugu, RwandaWidows from the genocide walking near their coffee fields
    Genocide Widows collective within the Gashonga coffee Cooperative Cyangugu, RwandaWidows from the genocide walking near their coffee fields
  • Gisuma coffee Washing station and coffee farmers of the collective  A Rwandan man sorts the red coffee cherries before they are washed and dried.  Lake Kiva, Rwanda
    Gisuma coffee Washing station and coffee farmers of the collective A Rwandan man sorts the red coffee cherries before they are washed and dried. Lake Kiva, Rwanda
  • Kokabanya Coffee Washing Station Cyangugu, RwandaCarrying green coffee beans to be sorted in Lake Kiva Rwanda
    Kokabanya Coffee Washing Station Cyangugu, RwandaCarrying green coffee beans to be sorted in Lake Kiva Rwanda
  • Kokabanya Coffee Washing Station Cyangug Rwanda  Taking a break from sorting green coffee beans at the coffee coop.
    Kokabanya Coffee Washing Station Cyangug Rwanda Taking a break from sorting green coffee beans at the coffee coop.
  • Gashonga washing station, Cyangugu, Rwanda ©2015 Ilene Perlman
    Gashonga washing station, Cyangugu, Rwanda ©2015 Ilene Perlman

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