Westrock Coffe: Grown in Africa, Brewed in Arkansas. (Photo: Westrock Coffee)
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (KTHV) -- A local company is making getting up in the mornings a little easier by growing some of the world's finest coffee, then transporting it from Rwanda to Arkansas.
Peter Guerrin is a professional roaster at Westrock Coffee in North Little Rock.
"I really do practice all the time."
Guerrin has been crafting the art for four years, smelling and tasting a whole lot of coffee.
"I am sniffing the dry fragrance of the coffee where it's ground," says Guerrin as he takes a whiff. "We just want to control everything so we can objectively grade the coffee."
But for Westrock Coffee, how the coffee reaches the cup is just as important as the coffee itself.
It's grown in Rwanda, a small country in the heart of East Africa. The beans are purchased from 75,000 farmers.
The coffee is processed in mills like the Rwanda Trading Company; the mill was once neglected but now it thrives, as do others that Westrock Coffee has revitalized.
CEO Todd Brogdon said the goal is to work closely with and improve the lives of Rwandan coffee farmers in an economy still recovering from the genocide nearly 20 years ago.
"It really makes a difference in the lives of farmers," he explained.
Employees are paid 20 percent above the local labor market.
There are also benefits of health care, daily meals, and pension funds.
"They can send their kids to school and pay for hospital visits. They just have more cash available," Brogdon said of the benefits.
Once processed, the coffee is then shipped to Arkansas where it's roasted, packaged and then sold to more than 1,000 Walmart and Sam's Club stores across the U.S. You can also find the coffee in Kroger locations across the state.
"We hope to expand that distribution as quick as we can," Brogdon adds.
From crop to cup, Westrock Coffee calls it a step-by-step process.
"It's hard to tell that story on a bag of coffee," Brogdon says.
The company is not just involved but committed as they reinvest in the Rwandan people and their land.
"We try and teach them they way we would want to be treated," Brogdon said. "It's really neat to have a such a international business with such a local flavor to it."
That's why Guerrin takes great pride in his roasting work, knowing it's a taste with purpose.
This fall you will be able to purchase Westrock Coffee in the K-cup Keurig form.