From Hillsides in South Sudan to Coffee Cups in France

October 08, 2015

South Sudanese coffee is reaching foreign consumers for the first time, thanks to a partnership between TechnoServe and Nespresso.

Yesterday, Nespresso announced the launch of Suluja ti South Sudan, the first coffee to be exported from South Sudan. But this week’s launch is the result of years of work by TechnoServe, Nespresso and hundreds of smallholder farmers.

Coffee grows wild on South Sudan’s hillsides, but decades of warfare and unrest had left the industry in tatters by the time the country achieved independence in 2011. That’s when George Clooney urged Nespresso and TechnoServe to help revive the sector. “Coffee farms have a great history of building peaceful pockets in very volatile areas,” the actor wrote to Bloomberg.

With support from Nespresso, TechnoServe staff have provided roughly 500 farmers in South Sudan with training on how to grow high-quality coffee beans and have helped them to form cooperatives and build wet mills to process the coffee. "We wanted to help smallholder farmers have a business opportunity around the existing coffee, to switch the thinking from, 'I've got a couple of coffee trees in my yard,' to, 'I can really work on this and make a living'," TechnoServe CEO Will Warshauer told Agence France-Presse.

This coffee represents the first significant non-oil export for the world’s youngest country, and serves as a source of optimism for participating farmers.  “I have seen that there is great change within the community. We want to produce the right quality. People now have hope. We will be able to pay school fees for children and in the end develop the country,” said Joseph Malish Thomas, one of the coffee growers.

Starting this month, Suluja ti South Sudan will be available to Nespresso Club Members in France. The robusta coffee has been wash-processed, resulting in a smooth texture and rich flavor profile that suggests dried cereal and woody notes.

Read more about the new South Sudanese coffee in the Guardian.