If you’re a coffee connoisseur or keen to buy a product with a feel good factor, the latest addition to Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range - Mzuzu Fairtrade Ground Coffee - is the perfect choice. With a citrus flavour, floral notes and a smooth, toffee finish, the coffee is grown by the Mzuzu cooperative high in the Misuku hills, in the northernmost region of Malawi.

Behind the sleek packaging and unique flavours is a story of cooperation and hard work which has linked organisations on both sides of the world and brought a unique and specialist coffee to the UK.

Three years ago, Twin joined forces with Sainsbury’s and Finlays to develop two new African speciality grade coffees, and strengthen the capacity of smallholder coffee producers in marginalised regions. The project is funded by the Government’s Department for International Development under its Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund (FRICH), which sets out to improve the lives of poor communities in Africa.

The high quality coffee is grown from seedlings in nurseries within each village.  Once the roots have developed, the plants are distributed to each small scale Mzuzu farmer who plants them on his farm, which is approximately 2 hectares. The coffee trees take around three years to bear fruit and for the beans to be picked. The hills in northern Malawi are of volcanic formation and the soils contain an abundance of minerals which allows the coffee to flourish as well as the high altitudes around Mzuzu, which slow down the photosynthesis of the plant, allowing the cherries to develop at a slower rate, enhancing the flavour.

Sainsbury’s and FRICH have now been supporting the Mzuzu cooperative for three years and this product is the culmination of all the hard work that the farmers of Mzuzu have done to produce a gourmet coffee using sustainable farming practices. 

Ellen Msiska, Fairtrade coffee farmer said: “I have brought water down to my house from the hills in a pipe which I paid for and laid myself. This was paid for from coffee money, and means I have good quality water for my children to drink.”