Arthur is a Co-Founder and CEO of Stori Coffee. He met Rip, of Rip Van, years ago and they connected over a shared vision of making the world a better place in each of their unique niches. Arthur is excited to be able to share some of his personal story with you today.
1. How did you start your business?
Like most things, I started Stori because I saw an unfulfilled need. And this need happened to be very personal to me because I was directly impacted by this gap. And if this gap was not met, it would create a systemic and deeply endemic cycle of poverty for people who grow the coffee we drink.
And since poverty is a seemingly global problem, with a host of macro issues, I have dedicated the last 20 years of my life (and counting) to build partial links that connect to this long chain of complex issues the coffee industry is facing. Stori Coffee happens to be the final link in that journey.
The idea of Stori coffee started years ago with a vision to use coffee as the vehicle that helped my countrymen and women to reconcile after a horrific genocide, and achieve economic freedom through sustainable business. This business could’ve been any other product but it became coffee because of the geopolitical setting my country is in. Geographically Rwanda is incredibly suited to grow coffee, while politically, coffee was ripping the seams of the social fabric of our country.
Coffee was brought to Rwanda a long time ago by the French and Belgium, who had three rules. You had to grow coffee, you couldn't cut down coffee trees, and you couldn't drink coffee. This created a perpetual cycle of poverty, which we’ve been working to reverse over the past two decades.
2. At what point did you think this is something you need to share with everyone? And why?
I know exactly when I decided it was something I needed to share with everyone. It was right after I realized that the most valuable asset I possessed was my identity. That is when I needed to share it with other people.
But when I say everyone, I don’t mean everyone; I mean the people just like me who are born every day without the luxury of a birth certificate. A fundamental foundation to who we are, and who we chose to become.
But for many, that is not a privilege they receive, and they are never able to leverage that asset to do things like open a bank account or own property. Sadly this lack of identity contributes to a cycle of poverty, which could be avoided if people’s identity were simply linked to their craft and socio-economic contributions.
So I started a business that captured everyone’s identity through one of the most traded commodities in the world and told that story at the beginning, middle, and end of the chain. This was important because the chain between those who consume the product and those who produce was either non-existent or highly compromised and distorted.
By connecting people to the value chain, their identities were recognized, acknowledged, and rewarded. I don’t know of any better way to bring to light the value of identity than through storytelling, by capturing and preserving the stories of those throughout the coffee supply chain and sharing their stories with the world. That’s our mission at Stori Coffee.
3. At what point did you think you had a better product than what’s already out there?
I don’t think I have a better product. But what I do know is that I have a ‘different’ product to offer. And sometimes, that means better for you! I believe it is different because I believe we are all connected by the products we consume. And if we look close enough, we are certain to see a reflection of ourselves and have a deeper connection with people we otherwise would never meet. We are on a mission to build the first authentic storytelling coffee.
4. What kind of coffee would you recommend pairing with Rip Van Wafels?
Well, that depends on the kind of wafel. You see, coffee has a ton of compounds and it does not get its due credit for its ability to pair with food like wine does. If you’ve ever sipped a coffee and not enjoyed the flavor, chances are you’d enjoy it if you paired it with the right food.
Rip Van Wafels is one of those products that has the first layer of introduction that will pair with most beverages - and that is the soft coating of a warm waffle - not too sweet, yet not too obstructive; here is the intersection where coffees first sweet acidic fruity flavors are tamed, yet heightened. By the time you get to the center of the Waffle, that is where the magic begins to happen. We’d recommend pairing with our Single Origin Rwanda or our Umugani Espresso.
5. Which Rip Van Wafel flavor is your favorite?
Definitely the Dutch Caramel.