From our Green Coffee Buyer for Burundi J Mlodzinski:

Kirundi is the official language of Burundi, and Abagore is Kirundi for women.

Why Abagore?  Because this coffee was grown largely by women.  They are part of a farmer association led by women.  That association participates in a project supported by the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) designed to use coffee as a vehicle to empower women.  And we purchased it from JNP Coffee, a new Intelligentsia Direct Trade partner that is owned and operated by a woman.

The Burundi chapter of IWCA was the first one legalized in Africa, and it has quickly become one of the most successful and recognized in the world, with nearly 1,000 members.  Its short-term goal is to turn the sales of women’s coffee lots like this one into increased income for participating women coffee growers.

The cost of this coffee includes premiums as part of the IWCA project that go directly back to growers in the form of a bonus that help women meet basic household needs.  Other women have reinvested their bonuses in their farms through the purchase of fertilizer, compost and the seedlings that represent the future of coffee in Burundi.  Still others have put this additional payment toward the purchase of bicycles for transportation or savings for school and university fees for their children.

The benefits of the IWCA program go beyond the monetary needs of participating women farmers and include social and political empowerment. When the Burundi chapter of the IWCA was founded, there were national policies which prevented women producers from registering coffee farms in their own name. Reversing that exclusionary policy was among the first items on the IWCA Burundi advocacy agenda.

IWCA Burundi understands that coffee quality can be an engine of economic opportunity and gender equality, so it helps train women in all aspects of the coffee trade, including quality-focused agronomic practices, quality control at the coffee washing stations and in the cupping lab, and negotiation and marketing.

Our Abagore Burundi comes from the Mutumba coffee washing station in Ngozi Province.  It was exported by JNP Coffee, founded, owned, and operated by Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian, who was born in Burundi and educated in the United States.  Jeanine collaborates with the IWCA at Mutumba and other coffee washing stations throughout the country, working tirelessly to ensure that coffee quality drives gender equality and raises the standard of living in Burundi’s coffeelands.

Buy it and meet the growers behind it here.