Starting out as farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1965, the Nicolaides family has been involved in coffee in Africa for three generations. Today, the family own and operate Coffeelac, the largest coffee processor and exporter of Arabica coffee in Eastern DRC.
As part of Coffeelac’s commitment to revitalizing the coffee sector in DRC, they build coffee sourcing supply chains (such as collection centers and washing stations), and provide access to finance, and good agricultural practices training for farmers. In 2014, the company completed the construction of its second processing mill, a $1.4 million state-of-the-art coffee processing facility, warehouse, and cupping lab, with a production capacity of over 10,000 metric tons of coffee per year, located in Goma. The facility has assisted in increasing export volume numbers, coffee quality and consistency, thus mobilizing the entire region to establish coffee production as an economic driver.
The Coffeelac history
- Mr. Vrasidas Nicolaides & Mr. Andreas Odyseos immigrate from Cyprus to Belgian Congo (ex Zaire, now DRC) in search for a better life and settle in Eastern DRC to raise their young families.
- Set up various general trading companies in the Belgian Congo.
- Establish 1st coffee business PLANOKI (Plantation de Nord Kivu) in Beni, DRC.
- Costas Nicolaides & Telis Nicolaides (sons of Vrasidas Nicolaides) join the family business after being raised in DRC & completing education in Europe.
- Establish 2nd coffee business COFFEELAC in Goma, on the shores of Lake Kivu, DRC.
- Establish Great Lakes Coffee Company in Kampala, Uganda.
- 2014 saw the inauguration of the Goma mill and launch of the sustainable coffee program. Today, the 2nd and 3rd generation Andreas Nicolaides & Costas Stamos are active members of the coffee business continuing an 80 years coffee family heritage in East Africa.
Coffeelac across the DRC
Coffeelac’s coffee sourcing network stretches across 3 regions of Eastern DRC.
In Province Orientale, Coffeelac operates 5 village collection and buying centers in Ituri, where “home processed”, fully traceable coffees feed into a leased processing plant for onward
In North Kivu, the company operates 2 Dry Mills with full drying/processing and export capabilities- one in the Nicolaides’ hometown of Beni, and another in Goma, at the Coffeelac Head Office. In addition to its commercial coffee supply chains, the company also operates 1 mini washing station, and a series of village buying and collection centers across the region, supplying Coffeelac with fully traceable coffees.
In South Kivu, the company operates 1 mini washing station on the Isle of Idjwi, where fully traceable coffees then feed into the Goma mill for onward export.
The state-of-the-art Coffeelac mill in Goma is the most modern in the region. The coffee processing facility, warehouse, and cupping lab has a production capacity of over 10,000 metric tons of coffee.