DR Congo Highlight, March 2024

DR Congo Highlight, March 2024


When coffee enthusiasts think of African coffee origins, often their minds go to Ethiopia, Uganda or Rwanda, however, the African continent is home to many more coffee producing countries, one of which is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (or the DRC). At 905,355 square miles, the DRC is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa with a diverse geography comprised of many rivers, lakes, rainforests, and mountains. Like most other coffee producing countries, the DRC is located along the equator with a warm and humid climate, conducive for coffee production. Most of the coffee production, of which the country produces both Arabica and Robusta varietals, is located in the Lake Kivu region on the east side of the country, right across the border from Rwanda in Noth Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri.

Early coffee production in the DRC was driven by European colonists who grew coffee on large, plantation style plots with Congolese people performing the labor, similar to the early coffee production in many colonized African countries. In 1960, the DRC won independence and the former colonial coffee plantations were broken into small plots of land for individual farming. Most Congolese farmers to this day, farm coffee on plots smaller than 1 hectare and intercrop their coffee with food crops, like bananas, for domestic consumption.

For more than a decade, coffee production was difficult for Congolese farmers as there was monopoly on the coffee industry, preventing farmers from earning what their coffee was worth. The industry shifted again in 1976 when the monopoly was broken, and farmers were able to engage in a wider market. This allowed coffee to become the most prominent agricultural export in the country in the 1980’s, with around 130,000 metric tons of coffee exported per year.  This success was short lived as civil war broke out in the mid 1990’s. The civil war led to a decline in production that the country still hasn’t recovered from. Even today, many Congolese coffee farmers smuggle their coffee into Uganda or Rwanda in order to access better prices, making it difficult to really understand how much coffee the DRC produces each year.


Today there are groups who are attempting to collaborate with Congolese coffee farmers to improve the coffee industry so that more of the world is able to experience Congolese coffee without farmers having to overcome dangerous conditions to get their coffee to the market.

At Westrock Coffee Company we love coffee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its brightness and its black tea, lemon, and raisin flavors.

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