Rwanda’s new coffee buzz

Jun 13, 2013
Fortune default image
fortune.com

In recent years Rwanda -- once known in the West mostly for its 1994 genocide -- has been enjoying peace and seeing signs of economic growth. One advantage: Its altitude, drenching tropical rains, and bountiful sun give the central African country perfect conditions for growing high-quality coffee beans. U.S. distributors have taken notice. Grace Hightower De Niro, 58, a philanthropist and the wife of Robert De Niro, launched Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda in January. It's a for-profit operation that aims to boost growers' incomes by paying above "fair trade" prices to buy beans and then sell them to U.S. stores such as some Whole Foods (wfm) outlets. Hightower De Niro says the idea came when she heard Rwanda's president speak: "He said he wanted 'trade, not aid.' I thought that was really inspiring."

Fortune default image
fortune.com

Grace Hightower De Niro picking coffee berries at a coffee plantation in Rwanda

Fortune default image
fortune.com

Hightower De Niro speaks to a coffee farmer at the Sofu washing station.

Fortune default image
fortune.com

Coffee beans drying in the sun at the Cyarumb washing station in Rwanda

Fortune default image
fortune.com

Hightower De Niro and a quality control manager tasting, or "cupping," coffee

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions