No Coffee, No Life

So many amazing things happened. The day started as all days should, with delicious coffee. Mike and I both brought along our areopresses. I was slightly shaken awake by the sounds of a roaster crowing. I feel like the only time I’ve heard a rooster wake me up before was on an iPhone alarm. I decided it would be a good time to prepare my mind and my heart for the day ahead. I made some areopressed coffee and read while looking out onto the absolutely spectacular scene of Kigali in the morning. As the sun continued to rise, I’m not sure if it was because I put my contacts in, but it started to reveal even more of the hill side.

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After Mike and I caught up with some coffee we headed upstairs to Jonathan’s room for breakfast. Anita awaited us with a fantastic meal. Pancakes and a cheese omelet with fresh tomato’s along with some of the most decadent mango I have ever had. The banana’s tasted sweeter and the freshly squeezed juice smoothie was just what I needed as I continue to get used to the malaria meds.

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We did some business and got paperwork together for a container of coffee to be shipped to the US. Freshly harvested and processed the Ruli Mountain coffee we offer was recently scored at a 88.6 on the SCAA scale in the cupping lab in Kigali. That might not mean much to many of you, but let me tell you, it’s awesome! From there we went to a place that both saddened and confirmed in me my purpose for being in Rwanda. Today was a large ceremony for the National Agricultural Exporting development Board (NAEB) in remembrance of the genocides 20 years ago. In honor of that we toured the Genocide Memorial in Kigali. It explained how these attacks weren’t random but had years of prejudice, violence, and decisions made that allowed the massacre to happen. This wasn’t just a civil war over an ideology, this was the attempt to eradicate an entire race and permanently scared this nation. We walked next to mass graves of the victims, many of which could have been found anywhere on the streets because there was no family to claim them. The graves were covered in concrete with simple flowers every now and then left to remember the tragedy. There was also a wall of names that is entirely incomplete due to the names only known to God.

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There was a realness to memorial. No sugar coating, but the rawness of a country and a people wanting others to know what actually happened so it would never happen again. One plaque read “When they said never again after the Holocaust, was it meant for some people and not for others?” There was exhibits of the tools of the genocide, some guns but mostly savage weapons such as machetes and hammers. There was more than just the idea of what occurred but actual bones and personal belongings of the victims. This was not meant to offend or gross anyone out but to make sure that the ideals of making sure something like this never happened again would sink in. A holocaust like event shouldn’t be something people forget or don’t know about. I serve customers everyday that have no idea the things that went on. But with the ashes I walked on and tears I shed came hope when talking with the Rwandan people.

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I met Sayiday (I hope I spelled that right, pronounced, Sigh-he-day). He is a driver for NAEB and lost over 100 members of his family in the genocide. He was in the Congo when the fighting started by came back to fight with the now president to stop the bloodshed and help rebuild Rwanda. The smiles around here always amaze me. They go further than ear to ear but connect us in joy and happiness. Sayiday before he left told us: “No coffee, No life.” Perhaps referring to the 7 cups of coffee he told me he drinks everyday. Mostly his own as he has around 500 coffee trees at his home.

 

The highlight of this incredible day was being able to talk with and get to know our agronomist Manu.

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I told him he’s famous in America, people buy coffee bags with his picture on it and we talk about him all the time. He just laughs and smiles like we’ve been brothers forever. He has been in coffee for over 10 years. Before working for Land of a Thousand Hills he said he was known as the Eastern Provence Coffee Governor. He talked about the difference between specialty coffee and ordinary coffee. Specialty Coffee in Rwanda refers to fully washed coffee which is currently all we purchase using our own washing station to process the cherries before being shipped and roasted in Roswell. Ordinary coffee is “processed” by the farmer and then sold to whoever will buy it. This is often done by taking cherries and laying them on a stationary stone and rubbing another rock on top of it thus removing the pulp and the mucilage. This isn’t regulated and could potentially take amazing coffee and turn it into mediocre or devastatingly bad coffee. I felt the passion behind his words in my soul on how he uses all of his strength and energy to make sure that only the best coffee makes it to America. He also told me “You have an important job, you must grow the business by making really good coffee so we can produce more and help more farmers.”

This is me auditioning to be a Rwandan barista as we convinced Bourbon Coffee Cafe to let me make my own cappuccino.

This is me auditioning to be a Rwandan barista as we convinced Bourbon Coffee Cafe to let me make my own cappuccino.

I’ve told my barista’s many times that the work we do is important. That people like Manu are depending on us to produce something life changing with their product in order to provide for their families. It’s one thing to say it, even to believe it’s true, but when I heard it from Manu it almost made me break down in tears. This is why I am here, this is what God has in store for me, to take the “ordinary” work of making coffee and allow Him to transform it into the Holy work of loving my Rwandan neighbors. After many hugs and even watching the USA soccer match together we said good night until tomorrow where we are scheduled to tour Musanze.

“he who saves a single life saves the world entire: – Talmud.

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