Higher Grounds Coffee

DRCongo Muungano

Meyer lemon, raisin, almond.

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12oz / whole bean / free shipping

Descriptors abound for this sweet fruity coffee. Fragrant peach, melon, and pomegranate lead into flavor notes of raisin pie, candied black currants, and amaretto. Its bright, sweet acidity and buttery mouthfeel blend perfectly with juicy grapefruit notes and subtle herbals.

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DR Congo
Lake Kivu
Muungano Cooperative
Smallholder producers
1500-2000 m
Washed Process

Meet Smallholder producers

Three hours down a questionable dirt road on the Western shore of Lake Kivu we find the washing stations of the Muungano Cooperative. “Muungano” means “togetherness” in Swahili. After decades of conflict, this choice of names reflects the hope that coffee brings to members’ lives as through it they begin to rebuild their community together. Though their surroundings and infrastructure may lag behind modernity, the coffee they produce is cutting edge.

Their coffees are sweet and bright, like the people themselves who remain professional, focused and upbeat despite the many challenges they face as coffee producers in the DRC. With help from importers and other coffee folk, the members coax the best out of the ancient Bourbon trees of their region.

Lake Kivu, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the

In Africa’s Great Rift Valley on the shores of Lake Kivu, little coffee farms cling to the southern slopes. The local varieties of heirloom Bourbon coffee plants offer complex, savory-sweet aromas and flavors along with moderate yet vibrant acidity and syrupy mouthfeel that specialty coffee buyers are coming to expect from this region.

At one time, the Lake Kivu region was a major exporter of coffee. But when ethnic conflict broke out in the 1990s, millions of people were killed or displaced, and the country’s coffee export plummeted. Unable to sell their coffees locally, many in this region smuggled their beans onto boats, crossing Lake Kivu in the dark of night to sell them in Rwanda, because what little they could get across the border was better than nothing. Thankfully, this situation is changing, and more and more coffee growers are gaining access to the coffee value chain that will bring them economic stability.

Traverse City, MI

Higher Grounds Coffee

It all started with a trip to Mexico. Owner and co-founder, Chris Treter, was living and working among coffee farmers at the Maya Vinic cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico as part of a post-graduate internship in 2001. For the farmers, poverty and a lack of access to basic resources such as education and water were simply a way of life. As he neared the end of his internship, Chris asked his farmer friend, Jose Perez Vazquez, “How can we keep helping you?”

“You could sell our coffee,” said José.

And that’s exactly what Chris did. From selling Maya Vinic Co-op’s coffee at his local farmers’ market, Higher Grounds grew. Eventually they also sought out coffee from other sources and joined forces with a handful of other roasters to form an importing cooperative, Cooperative Coffees. Every trade relationship they have is modeled after that first one, and every year they still purchase from Maya Vinic. Furthermore, Higher Grounds Coffee donates 1% of their sales to On the Ground, their partner nonprofit. On the Ground empowers coffee farming communities through gender and social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic security.


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