Meet Rwandan Women Making Coffee Soap

some of the branded coffee perfume and soap products
some of the branded coffee perfume and soap products

A group of rural Rwandan women in Huye district has started turning coffee into a very attractive perfume.

United under ‘Dukundane’ cooperative in Ruhashya sector, the women use coffee to process various products including; soap, perfumes and deodorants.

Their most interesting product is ‘Huye Coffee Sabon’- soap made from a mixture of coffee liquid and coffee powder deodorant.

The women told KT Press that they use sun flower oil, palm oil and sodium hydroxide as major ingredients in making soap.

According to the cooperative, their products are packaged in enclosed fabric. The coffee perfume can also be placed in cars to deodorize. They can also be used in houses.

Both products are available in super markets in Huye district, Sothern Rwanda, with coffee soap selling at Rwf1000 and the deodorant, Rwf500.

“A neighbour bought the soap for her child that had skin rash. However, she has purchased more soap ever since. It’s a proof that coffee soap is gentle and healing to the skin,” Consolée Nyirahakizimana, the president of  ‘Dukundane’ cooperative told KT Press.

The therapeutic soap is made from a mixture of coffee liquid and powder as major ingredients. They also add sun flower oil, palm oil and sodium hydroxide.

Deodorant is also made out of coffee powder and it is applied on the armpits for its sweet smell to eliminate bad odor.

This perfume works as skin moisturizer; it can scrub and massage the body.

Nyirahakizimana said they have capacity to make only 8 pieces of soap a day; “Some of the materials are expensive to buy, so we make little profit after selling and buying new materials,” she said.

Cuppers, professionals who evaluate coffee are not surprised that Rwandan coffee can produce nice perfume.

Laetitia Mukandahiro, a cupper working with National Agriculture Export Board told KT Press that Rwandan coffee includes 180 aromas.

“The concentration of aroma in coffee increases with the altitude; Rwandan coffee is grown in high altitude which gives it the best aroma.”

Among other aromas, Mukandahiro said, Rwandan coffee includes rose flowers, spice, honey, vanilla, lemon and red apple.

Dukundane cooperative is made of 10 vulnerable women that started as a tailoring cooperative last year, but could not raise enough to survive.

In May, Hiroaki Sonoda, a volunteer from Japanese International Cooperation Agencies-JICA showed them they could use coffee, to improve their wellbeing.

Rwandan coffee started to attract attention of the international market since 2000s when American laboratories identified special aroma and taste in Rwandan Arabica coffee.

Since then, the coffee attracts buyers from across the world.

Rwandan coffee is registered under the international competition of the Cup of Excellence, which recompenses best coffees in the world.

The best coffee fetched $423,396 (about Rwf318 million) from 2015 online auction, an increase from $301,771 (about Rwf226.3 million) generated in 2014.

Women under 'Dukundane' cooperative in Ruhashya sector, Nyanza sector
Women under ‘Dukundane’ cooperative in Ruhashya sector, Nyanza sector

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