Coffee has the ability to change people's lives in very tangible ways, especially when coffee buyers partner with leaders in a community who understand how to help their fellow farmers reach new levels of success. Finding the right partners who are already working to better the lives of those around them is one of the major keys to being a good coffee buyer.
As we began to explore Kenya a few years ago, we met a man named Fredrick who managed the Kii Rung'eto Cooperative in Kirinyaga. Fredrick was a renaissance man who saw that coffee had the ability to improve quality of life for the farmers in his cooperative and their families. He was passionate about equipping them to save and reinvest their livelihoods, so he opened a bank and created systems for them to get paid quickly and directly. When he noticed that the members were buying cows (which is a common method for holding wealth in Kenya) he also opened a dairy cooperative. This drastically catapulted peoples' ability to grow their income, and when we visited last they had outgrown their initial dairy building and purchased a larger one so they could keep expanding.
Kii has been one of our favorite coffees year after year, and the cooperative has proved to produce coffees with some of the most tropical notes from this region. It's a must-try for the flavors and vibrance in the cup, but it's also easy to appreciate for the good it has created in the lives of those who grew it.