A passion for the people of Rwanda is what prompted Kevin Mbundu and Nik Patel to start Kivu noir.

Described as the “Worlds Freshest Coffee,” Kivu noir specializes in providing fresh coffee to consumers while supporting and empowering the local women who survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.

Related Post: 15 Black-Owned Coffee Shops Every Traveler Should Visit

Grown at an altitude over 4,800 ft. above sea level along Lake Kivu in Rwanda, Kivu noir is a special blend of coffee made of the famed Red Bourbon Arabica bean variety.

Photo courtesy of Kivu noir

Rwanda is known worldwide for its fine coffees: a product of rich soils, high altitudes, plentiful equatorial sunshine and rainfall, and how the coffee is carefully processed.

Travel Noire spoke to Mbundu to learn more about Kivu noir and how the company is working to help people in Rwanda:

Travel Noire: Tell us what prompted you all to start Kivu noir?

Kivu noir: We are passionate about our people and our coffee. The best way for us to empower Rwandans was to bring the farmers closer to the customers, and this in turn would give our customers the opportunity to experience the purest, freshest coffee. In the end, it was a win-win idea.

TN: What makes Kivu Noir coffee beans unique?

Kivu noir: So many things […] but what really sets us apart is that Kivu noir is the world’s freshest coffee. Most coffee supply chains involve 11 steps that can take up to two or three years. That means from when the coffee is harvested to when it arrives at the roaster, it has been kept in warehouses and has already lost 80 percent of its flavor.

We eliminate this problem by cutting out the middleman and owning the entire process from harvest to roast. Our coffee is roasted in Kigali before it flies directly to Tampa. Once sold, it is delivered to the doorsteps of customers across the US. This means no waiting around in warehouses. From the time of harvest, our coffee typically spends only one month being roasted, packaged, and shipped.

Photo courtesy of Kivu Noir

TN: Tell us more about how you are helping people in Rwanda?

Kivu noir: Caferwa is our production company in Rwanda. Through Caferwa, we employ and empower thousands of women, many of them survivors of war and extreme poverty. Because of our shortened trade chain, we are able to dedicate more of the proceeds from coffee sales to nurseries, classrooms, and medical care. Our farmers are able to not only support themselves and their families, but are also up-skilled continuously [on] new methods of farming as well as accountability in the coffee supply chain.

We believe wholeheartedly in doing business by Fair Practice and ethical standards. We want Kivu noir to benefit every single person involved in its production.

Photo courtesy of Kivu noir

TN: It’s very rare to find coffee companies that are black-owned. What’s your reaction to breaking the mold and inspiring others who want to be in your shoes?

Kivu noir: In Rwanda, black-owned businesses aren’t rare of course, as black people form the majority of the population. Rwanda is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. But having lived in America, I do understand the hurdles that face African Americans. My advice to them would be to look to the African continent for inspiration and ideas. If possible, travel here and explore the wide range of opportunities. As consumers become more invested in supporting diverse, ethical businesses, the opportunities in America will grow.

Kevin Mbundu, Co-Founder, Kivu noir