Coffee, our wasted asset

This morning some 1.3 billion people woke up to a cup of coffee, by the end of the day some 7 billion cups will have been served and this will be repeated tomorrow. Coffee is just as addictive as any drug but most importantly it is legal, it powers modern industry and pushes them to higher targets.

This morning some 1.3 billion people woke up to a cup of coffee, by the end of the day some 7 billion cups will have been served and this will be repeated tomorrow.

Coffee is just as addictive as any drug but most importantly it is legal, it powers modern industry and pushes them to higher targets. If Wall Street stopped drinking coffee then the global economy will suffer. So it is a seemingly bottomless market if exploited well.

We do not need a massive section of the market to succeed, we just 3 million global drinkers of Rwanda coffee, spending $10 a month we can have a very good global brand portfolio. We really lag behind in branding and product development.

Look at the lack of imagination on show when we look at CAFERWA, just an acronym ending in RWA, as is the norm in Rwanda. No consultation of a brand manager, just a board agreement to keep the company acronym.

Someone in that meeting should have suggested “Amahoro Coffee” or “Insovu” or any name that can convey some meaning that a brand can build on.

The packaging is good, blue, bright and positive but the name shows lack of imagination. Then you have Maraba, an excellent coffee, even world class but the packaging is so cheap and horrible. The cover shows a contorted disfigured abstract woman drawn with little skill.

It is very important how the customer first encounters a brand, they are superficial and will ignore a ugly brand. Maraba is a wonderful project, it supports farmers, the beans are hand-picked for the finest quality.

The cover should show that, it should first be bright to capture attention, then they have to stress the fair-trade and community-building aspect of Maraba. I want to see

“Verdaste Nsabimana, coffee-grower with 2 hectares, 3 children and a happy wife.”

Costa Rica was first to try and personalise the link between the grower and the end-user, we need to highlight that link. Then we need product development, when you produce Caferwa, then try to produce different types.

Light-roast, medium roast, dark-roast, even experiment with types of flavours like adding a hint of vanilla, or other essences. Let us try everything until we find a good seller.

We also need to get Rwandans to drink more coffee so our productivity would improve slightly, instead of drinking milky tea that makes you want to sleep.

We still do not produce instant coffee, it is a simple freeze-drying process that is not beyond us. A machine costs $25,000. If you mixed it with sugar for an instant drink you would make instant money.

We have focussed a great deal on increasing volumes, or washing and increasing value, but the end-product is a brand. When we sell a Rwandan Brand it is an assurance of quality, it is a bond between producer and customer, and it represents us abroad.

Getting people to drink Rwandan coffee promotes us and is a gateway to other investment.

People will feel they are investing in a person, Verdaste – the man they see on their coffee tin.

Ends

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