By Kite Pareti
“Money is not the sole reason we exist. We exist to give people a hand up, to give people a better shot at life, to give people access to education, and to give them financial independence,” says Luke Fryett of Bula Coffee.
Fryett launched Bula Coffee ten years ago. “We started off buying coffee off one family in a Fijian village, [and have] grown over the last ten years to harvesting coffee from about 52 villages and [supporting] 5000 people annually.”
Now he has opened the doors to locals and tourists, who not only get the chance to taste Fiji’s wild harvested coffee, but also become part of the Bula Coffee journey.
“Our coffee has changed lives in some of the most remote Fijian communities,” Fryett says, giving the example of one grower who has used the income she has earned to lift those around her.
“She makes pillows and cushions and sells them for Fijian weddings or funerals, for engagements or birthday parties. She’s never had a sewing machine and has always wanted to be able to afford one. With her coffee money, she bought her first two sewing machines,” says Fryett.
“I looked at her kind of strangely and said, ‘Why have you bought two sewing machines? She smiled at me and said, ‘Now I can [help] everyone else in the village who doesn’t have one.’”
A few months later, the same woman had started her own canteen, and was renting out fridge space for people who wanted to make their food last longer.
“It’s about giving women financial independence to let them shine, to let them create their own future,” Fryett says.
“Another young couple once stopped me in the middle of the market, tears in their eyes saying, ‘Luke, Luke, Luke’, and I said ‘What’s wrong?’ The man said to me, ‘No, this is my happy face, not my sad face.’”
The woman relayed how their children had to cross waterways to get to school safely, and that their bedding materials would often get wet, making them sick.
However after supplying beans to Bula Coffee, “they were able to provide waterproof bags and built a better raft with tyres all around secured properly so that their kids with their equipment could reach school safely.”
Fryett continues: “Ultimately, it’s about letting their God-given talents shine. It’s about keeping kids safe when they travel down a river to school, it’s about women that feel trapped and alone and are made safe. Every cup you buy and every tour you book with us enables us to continue to do what we do.”
At present, Fryett says a lot of their coffee is exported to the United Kingdom, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. It’s also available in a number of local cafes. “In the U.K., they sell our 1KG coffee for FJ$300. Yet, tourists continue to flock into Fiji, drink coffee and there’s no connection…with our country.”
Bula Coffee is turning that narrative around. Fryett says: “The coffee that you choose to drink each morning can make a difference. We, at Bula Coffee, are changing lives one cup at a time. Please join us to make every cup count.”
To book a Bula Fiji coffee tour visit www.bulacoffee.co or phone: +679 788 7602
This article first appeared in Issue One of Fiji Traveller.