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Rwandan coffee to be roasted in USA by Westrock Coffee, Arkansas

Rwanda coffee

Rwanda coffee

Kigali – Coffee roasting giant Westrock Coffee will purchase massive quantities of dry Rwandan coffee to be shipped to the US state of Arkansas for roasting, the company announced after President Kagame met its executives.

Westrock Coffee, formerly Coffee Legends, will roast premium Rwandan coffees shipped to the North Little Rock facility by Little Rock’s Rwanda Trading Company, which is a coffee processor and exporter that owns a green-coffee dry mill in Kigali, Rwanda.

The decision of Westrock Coffee to import Rwandan dry coffee for roasting follows the acquisition of a new larger roasting facility located at 30 Collins Industrial Place in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

President Kagame visited Arkansas this week and met with business executives as well as Rwanda students in the area.

“The business that Rwanda Trading Company and Westrock Coffee are developing both in Rwanda and in Arkansas is an excellent example of partnerships that Rwanda seeks, one that strengthens our economy by building a bridge to the U.S. market for products produced by the Rwandan people,” said Mr. Kagame in a statement.

Rwanda Trading is a US-based company which was established in 2009 by a group of former Alltel executives,  including Scott Ford and others, who went to Rwanda to find for-profit business opportunities that were capitalistic in nature and would also make a meaningful difference in the lives of Rwandans.

Rwanda Trading Company bought state green-coffee exporter Rwandex in July last year for US$2.3million.
Since then, the company has invested several million dollars in the Kigali facility. As a result, Rwanda Trading has significantly increased its exports. In 2010, the company projects exports will increase fourfold over the previous year.

“We have built a significant network of suppliers in Rwanda to improve the efficiency of the coffee supply chain in that country,” said Westrock Coffee CEO, Steve McElhanon.
“Our new facility in North Little Rock will enhance our ability to deliver premium Rwandan coffee products to our customers across the country.”

The entry of Westrock Coffee into Rwanda’s coffee sector follows global coffee chain Starbucks which buys dry coffee directly from farmers in Rwanda and turns it into its own blends which are sold across its stores in the US, Europe and middle east. See New Rwandan Coffee Blend Released On US Market

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1 Ann Garrison { 04.30.10 at 11:11 am }

I’d like to know what “farmers in Rwanda” means. I suspect that it means plantations centralized in a few hands, not small farmers who grow subsistence crops.

2 rob bullock { 05.07.10 at 11:29 am }

I actually had a conversation with Steve about this and “farmers in Rwanda” actually means just that. There are over 800,000 farmers in Rwanda with an average farm size of 4 acres. There are no plantations in Rwanda.

3 Jackie { 11.10.10 at 4:03 am }

As a daughter to a Rwandan farmer – thank you Rob Bullock for clarifying that fact. We DO NOT have “plantations” in Rwanda as some misinformed “journalists” like Miss Garrison always attempt to misinform the public. The work that has been put into merging struggling farmers with an American market that is willing to open its doors to our products speaks more volumes than the millions of dollars that are sent to “save the Africans” from poverty and disease. Ms Garrison”s efforts are driven by a very superficial and misleading agenda.

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