Since before starting Nova Coffee, Agnes and Felix have run a pharmacy in Kigali called Pharmacie Nova. Agnes’s father, like countless others, lost his decades-old coffee trees in the Rwandan genocide, and so Agnes and Felix saw the opportunity to buy and restore a decrepit old washing station as a chance to revitalize a community. Nova’s vision is to “drive socio-economic welfare through the enhancement of improved coffee farming practices,” and their mission statement is “being a women-centered washing station, Nova Coffee is committed to developing the neighbouring community into specialized coffee farmers that produce high-quality coffee as well as to enhance social cohesion in order to create jobs and eradicate poverty.” In the words of our importing partners at Crop to Cup, Agnes and the Nova team are “truly socially motivated dreamers” - precisely the partners we seek and value throughout our supply chain.
The washing station that Agnes and Felix originally purchased is located in the village of Bukure, north of Kigali. Since then, Agnes joined Rwanda’s chapter of the International Womens’ Coffee Alliance, further collaborating with international non-profit TWIN to develop a brand called Le cafe de mamans, representing 263 mothers in the Berwa Cooperative, whose coffees are roasted and sold domestically. In addition to Berwa, Nova works with the Jyambere Muhinzi Wakawa and Dukorere Kawa cooperatives, the latter providing the coffee for this selection. Knowing Agnes’s character and work ethic, it is no surprise that she and her partners are producing some of the most phenomenal dry-processed coffees we have ever tasted from Rwanda.
In much of the world, 2021’s harvest was one of the most difficult in recent memory. Sustained labor shortages, erratic weather, and logistical chaos made it difficult for producers to yield as much coffee as in years past, and even more difficult to uphold tantamount sorting and processing diligence that we often take for granted. And even when overcoming these obstacles, shipping container shortages and global exporting congestion forced many excellent coffees to sit in poor conditions for dramatically longer than usual, diminishing quality upon arrival to final destinations. As a tiny, landlocked country, Rwanda suffered the last of these vulnerabilities as intensely as anywhere, meaning that we did not finally receive our lot of Nova until May of 2022. Nonetheless, we have remained committed to this relationship, and we truly believe that the quality of this individual selection remains extremely high, with the same strawberry/chocolate/vanilla medley of flavors we’ve come to know and love. In the cup, we taste Neapolitan ice cream and starfruit.