Thursday, 10 November 2011

Starbucks in Rwanda?!

This week I heard a rumour that Starbucks exists secretly on the top floor of the vso building in Kigali. I must admit it had never occurred to me to actually continue up the stairs past the vso dorm and volunteer resource room.  So yesterday me and Lindsey decided to investigate if the rumours.  Sure enough, after climbing two more flights of stairs we came across an innocuous wooden door with a tiny, barely visible Starbucks logo on it. On the outside of the doors were all these security machines to stop the hot chocolate/coffee/brownie deprived souls from entering. What a shame, and I bet the staff hiding out in there get access to Starbucks stuff. It really is true that you learn something new every day here...

After a bit of probing I discovered that the office had been there for a couple of years. I think it exists to talk to the coffee producers and arrange exporting the beans. Around my way in the East there is a huge amount of coffee plant cultivation. Rwandan coffee is ‘award winning’ according to Starbucks and I don’t doubt it, yet Rwandans themselves usually tell me they can’t stand the stuff. They are like me in that they would rather gulp down copious amounts of tea. In fact outside of Kigali I don’t think you can even buy coffee, other than in a few places where you can buy small tins of imported Nescafe. For me that is one of the contradictions of life here. I kind of can’t imagine something being produced in the UK that the people who live there don’t even like. I guess it really is a global world. I just wonder how many of Starbucks’ mega bucks get invested into the rural poor areas where it is grown? It’s just something I’d like to know....

What lies beyond this door?


  1. A couple of weeks ago I met your Gran and Aunt in Bath and took them to the Pump Rooms for afternoon tea. To my surprise, the standard filter coffee was Rwandan. So it is not just Starbucks that recognises good coffee.

  2. Rwanda coffee is great. Still drinking it. Stephen

  3. Rwandan coffee is now available at Waitrose in the UK