Maraba coffee owes its name to the region where it is produced, the Maraba area of southern Rwanda.
Maraba’s coffee plants belong to the Coffee arabica species, they are the Bourbon variety. The plants are grown on high-altitude hills, on fertile volcanic soils. During the months of March, April and May the fruit gets handpicked and brought to Maraba, where the coffee beans are extracted and dried.
The coffee beans are sorted according to quality ad then sold to different roasting companies.
The Abahuzamugambi company is a cooperative, founded in 1999, formed by about two thousand smallholder farmers who grow Maraba coffee plants.
A curiosity: Abahuzamugambi” literally means “People working together to make a common cause” in the local Kinyarwanda language.
The NUR, National University of Rwanda, and the PEARL (Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages) have been supporting the Abahuzamugambi cooperative ever since 2000.
Since then, the Maraba coffee produced y this company has improved enormously and has mangaed to penetrate the delicate speciality market.
The 70 percent of the profits of the Abahuzamugambi Cooperative (US$35,000) are divided among the farmers at US$0.75 per kilogram provided. This amount is more than three times higher than the one paid to other coffee growers in Rwanda. This means that it’s enough money to pay for health care and education services, which was impossible before.
The 30 percent left was invested back into the cooperative, investing in materials that make the soil less acid and more suitable for cultivation.
The Abahuzamugambi cooperative is organized through an 8 person board, 3 person committee, 3 person control committee, and farmers general assembly comprising all 1872 member farmers. Their president is named Rurangwa Juvenal, his second-in-command is a woman named Marie Goretti Nyiranzabondora.
The cooperative as a whole produces roughly 3 containers of coffee each year, much of which is purchased by Union Hand Roasted, a London-based roasting company.
The cooperative is fully Fair Trade Certified.
The necessary working capital for the cooperative comes not only from the previous year’s earnings, ut also from a microloan organization, Root Capital, which offers internet-based lending to agricultural companies in Rwanda and throughout the developing world.
As of 2006, 80 sort tons (73,000 kg) are produced every year of export-quality coffee in Maraba. Of those, 40 tons go to roasters and sellers in the United Kingdom and 40 tons to the United States.
The coffee can be found in many products.
One of this is the Maraba Bourbon coffee, produced by Union Coffee. A blend of Maraba and other coffees can be found in the “New Orleans Jazz” Blend and Hotel blends.
As of products sold in Rwanda, Café de Marabais produced by Rwanda Roasters and sold in upmarket shops in the country. A company named Intelligentsia uses Maraba coffee in various blends and is planning on launching it as a single-origin brand in the future.
Maraba coffee is also contained in a beer, produced by Meantime Breweries of London, called Meantime Coffee.