View Previous Discovery Coffees 

Give Feedback

Order Again

Subscribe and Save 10% 

Democratic Republic of the Congo - SOPACDI (Women's Coffee
Project Micro-Station)



REGION | Mishebere and Ruhunde, Kahele Territory

PROCESS | Washed

SPECIES | Arabica 

VARIETY | Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai

ALTITUDE | 1700-1900 MASL


The Women Producer Program at SOPACDI is a group of women who live and farm in the villages of Mishebere and Ruhunde in the Kahele territory. SOPACDI has started this project to source and keep separate coffee from this group of growers, in order to provide them a better income from specialty coffee as well as more financial independence and autonomy.

The producers each own an average of 0.5 hectares, and deliver coffee in cherry form to the washing station. There is a price premium paid directly to these women farmers to use as they see fit. Over 600 of SOPACDI’s 3,200 producer members are women. Many of them are widows who have lost their husbands in the war or by drowning in their attempt to smuggle coffee across Lake Kivu.

From the outset, the cooperative has been concerned to address the particular difficulties faced by these widows - the Women’s Committee already has a representative on the organisation's board. But now, as part of a program rolled out by Fairtrade organisation Twin, SOPACDI plans to take matters a step further.

Like in many African countries, rural women play an important role in agriculture in DR Congo. However, as most land is owned by men, they remain economically dependent and have limited access to credit. Twin’s empowerment project will help a number of cooperatives like SOPACDI to install gender equity and equality in all their activities.

In addition, Twin supports the development of a market for women’s coffee so that women farmers can benefit directly from the crops they produce. Women’s empowerment also requires a more structural change, which goes beyond coffee premiums. Twin is now engaging with SOPACDI and other cooperatives in the Great Lakes region to introduce a gender methodology that will enable them to engage farmers, both men and women, in analysing, assessing and changing their gender roles to improve their livelihoods and their business in a sustainable way.


Democratic Republic of the Congo (also known as DRC, but not to be confused with the neighbouring Republic of the Congo) is an interesting origin, just barely on the radar of specialty coffee. A long and established Robusta economy has been more prevalent in the coffee sector, and an emphasis on high-quality Arabica coffee is just gaining a foothold among producers.

The country itself is the fourth most heavily populated on the continent and is the second-largest nation in Africa as well. Despite the population, however, resources such as roads, potable water, and electricity are scarce, and development within agribusiness has been slow. Coffee was introduced by European colonists, who owned and operated large plantations using local labour to tend to the fields - a history not unlike that of Kenya, Tanzania, and other colonised African nations.

When the DRC achieved independence from Belgium in 1960, the land was broken up in redistribution schemes, with each new farmer getting a very small plot of land. Until 1976, the national regulatory authority, Office National du Café (ONC) held a monopoly on the coffee-export market; liberalisation and the elimination of price controls in the early 1980s created both opportunity and some chaos as the market equalised to determine pricing levels and structure.

Similarly, the transition from a primarily plantation-based coffee-farming industry to one comprising thousands of smallholder farms was a somewhat difficult time for producers, as they struggled to gain a foothold in the market and to manage their own land and operations in a country that is still very much dominated by rural agriculture.

Access to the market is exceptionally difficult, and political and economic unrest over the past few decades has made specialty-coffee growing and sourcing a challenge, but projects, organisations, and cooperatives such as SOPACDI are actively working to improve networks and infrastructure to bring top-quality lots to the international market.

Coffee is grown in most of the country, spread throughout its seven provinces, and is a significant cash crop, though most of what is grown and exported are either full Robusta or not specialty-quality. Investment projects and direct-sourcing projects are contributing to a general increase in profile and availability of better coffees, however, and the next few years look very hopeful for Congolese coffees.

Subscribe & Save 10%

Discovery Coffee
Receive a different coffee each month from £8 per month

Essential Coffee
Receive the same coffee each month from £6.80 per month

What are you waiting for? Let's get started!