‘I grew up farming coffee’: Couple brings Rwandan coffee to Winnipeg

A local coffee company is staying true to it’s founder’s African roots, while helping Rwandan coffee growers rebuild their industry.

Thousand Hills Coffee was started by married couple Julia and Sim Ngezahayo after Sim lost his interpreter job in 2020.

“As a family over the last few years, we’ve had to pivot and think of a different way of moving forward,” said Julia. “We’ve always enjoyed Rwandan coffee, and just thought ‘wow, we’d love to share this with people.'”

The couple began reaching out through Sim’s contacts in his birth country of Rwanda to begin importing the coffee and selling it in Manitoba.

“It is actually from my home village. I grew up farming coffee my whole life with my family before I came here,” said Sim.

The couple sources their coffee beans directly from farmers in Rwanda, before roasting and packaging the product in Winnipeg.

Sim said the coffee industry in Rwanda had been devastated following the 1994 Tutsi genocide. Thousand Hills Coffee is his way of giving back.

“Rwandan society is rebuilding and we want people to be encouraged and keep farming coffee, so that this specialty coffee does not disappear,” said Sim.

He added the taste of Rwandan coffee is quite unique.

“It has flavours of, tart, cherry … the soil is the main factor that influences the taste of the coffee,” he said. “Rwanada is actually called the land of 1,000 hills, which is where our business name comes from.”

The company offers a monthly subscription service and sells its products out of the Fromagerie Bothwell at 136 Provencher Blvd.             

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