In Swahili, Muungano means “togetherness,” and it is a guiding principle for the farmers of the Muungano Coffee Cooperative. For many years, the people of eastern Congo — Bahunde, Bahavu, Bashi, Batembo, and Rwandan Congolese — were divided by war, but through Muungano, they are once again working as one to create a brighter future for their people.
The cooperative has grown from 350 founding members in 2009 to 2,300 members in 2012, with many more committed to joining. Muungano’s farmers have the perfect conditions to produce top-grade specialty coffee and are wholly committed to fulfilling that potential. They’ve invested in coffee nurseries, micro-washing stations, and in 2013 built a coffee cupping laboratory, which will aid in quality control from seed to green bean.
Farmers tend their land naturally, using homemade compost and mulch. With coffee plants growing among homes in their villages, they see the importance of the industry to the local environment as well as to the health of their citizens. Farmers are also taking measures to combat the risk of landslides in heavy rain by planting trees with deep roots to strengthen the soil structure. Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Congo Muungano, from Kickapoo Coffee in Viroqua, Wisconsin courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kalihi, Southern Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Muungano Cooperative
elevation: 1500 – 2000 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Congo Muungano is decadent and sweet, and it really packs a punch. Dark chocolate, honey blossom, and cane sugar give way to bright red fruits, savory spices, and just a touch of roast.
Jumping into my first few sips of the coffee immediately post-brew, my palate is inundated with massive flavors of dark chocolate-covered raspberries, Tupelo honey, buttered toast, graham cracker, and juicy red fruits (tart honeycrisp apple, spiced cherry, cranberry), while further notes of toasted almonds and cinnamon push through the finish.
As the coffee cools off, the dark chocolate and honey flavors, while something of a congeal while the fruits only get juicier and more intense. The cooler it gets, the tarter it gets; zesty, too, with beautiful flavors of candied fruits gumdrops and Meyer lemon acidity.
Full body; juicy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
I have only had two coffees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo: this, the Muungano, and the Tsheya; both of them, coincidentally, were from Kickapoo Coffee. Both of them, not coincidentally I’m sure, were delicious.
The Muungano was delicious—sweet and decadent—like a dessert. The only difference between the Muungano and a dessert, really, is that the Muungano didn’t go straight to my hips.
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