At Yego Coffee in Somerville, it’s not uncommon to see Americans speaking Kinyarwanda, the language of Rwanda. Former Peace Corps members, teachers, NGO workers, or medical personnel who once lived in the country flock here, perhaps to practice the language, but certainly for the Rwandan coffee.
Francois Tuyishime opened the shop in Teele Square in March with his wife, Fatuma, and imports beans from his family farm in the country’s southwest. “People who have had ties to Rwanda come here and feel connected through the coffee,” says Tuyishime. With its rich, fruity, floral, and chocolaty notes, the specialty coffee has steadily increased in popularity.
Tuyishime came to the area to study at Brandeis University, and he earned a master’s degree in conflict resolution. Still, his family’s third-generation coffee business drew him back. His grandfather began growing coffee trees in the 1940s, years after missionaries introduced the practice. During the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the family fled to Kigali, the nation’s capital, and returned after the war to revive their business. Before he started his own business, Tuyishime became a certified roaster and worked for a Framingham coffee company. Later, he sold his family’s coffee online and at farmers’ markets. The next step was opening Yego, a space with a dozen tables and a counter with seating.
On a recent afternoon, seats are filled with people working on laptops, sipping coffee drinks, and nibbling pastries that come from Framingham’s Saxonville Bakery. Plenty of natural light streams through a picture window, and the gleaming white walls give the spot a cheerful look. Burlap sacks stacked near the window are filled with green coffee beans. Tuyishime says he named his shop Yego, which translates to “yes,” a powerful word for him that transcends the affirmative to signify hope and positivity.
“Optimism was the only way we could survive after the genocide,” he says. “The name is beyond just yes.”
1212 Broadway, Somerville.
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at email@example.com.