1. RWANDA - Bufcoffee, Umurage Washing station, Kigoma Sector
Natural process / 100% Red Bourbon Arabica/ 1600-1800m
Tasting notes - Banana bread, frangipane and sour cherry acidity
Suitable for - All brewing methods
2. RWANDA - Musasa Dukunde Kawa, Ruli Washing Station
Washed Process / 100% Red Bourbon / 1700-2000m
Damian our coffee buyer first encountered the Musasa Dukunde co-op in 2007 when Specialty grade Rwanda first arrived in the UK and he has been buying from them ever since. This example leapt off the cupping table and he declared one of the best lots that they have ever produced. The Ruli washing station which was built with a development loan from the Rwandan government and the support of a US Aid programme called PEARL which was instrumental in opening Rwanda up to the more profitable and quality focussed Specialty sector. This and it's successor (SPREAD) have been invaluable in helping the country's small-scale farmers rebuild and remodel their production in the wake of the devasting early 90's double-hit of a global coffee crash alongisde well-documented national genocide. Farmers with the Musasa Dukunde co-op have seen their income at least double and they also receive school fees and medical insurance alongside practical quality premiums in the form of livestock (for food and fertiliser) and specially modified bicycles to deliver their cherries to the washing station.
I must admit that although Rwandan coffees that I have tasted in the past have been juicy and sweet, they don't often reach the clarity and complex acidity found in those of nearby Kenya. This however is right up there. The fruit is juicy and complex with sweet plum and tart dried cranberries and the body is silky and soft. There is also a note of black tea and lemon zest. We struggled to make this work as an espresso but it's so good as a filter that it hardly matters and it's probably the best Rwandan coffee I've ever tasted. While the search for the perfect Kenyan continues this more than makes up for it!
Tasting notes - Plum, dried cranberry, black tea, silky
Suitable for - Non espresso brewing
3. BURUNDI - PROCASTA, Nkanda Washing Station, Ngozi Province
Washed Process / 100% Red Bourbon / 1700-1900m
The PROCASTA washing station was opened by Pierre Nyzeyimana in 2012 and offers exceptional facilities to the 2500 smallholder farmers who use it. After a career spent both as a farmer of various crops (including coffee) and a washing station manager, Pierre understands both the challenges faced by farmers and what infrastructure is required to process exceptional coffee. A family man with three sons who he one days hopes will take on the station, he also cares deeply about his farmers and is quoted as saying that their happiness is his number one priority.
We purchased this small lot from Homage Coffee Source, a US based exporter who we came into contact with in Summer last year when their UK contact Maddie visited the roastery with pre-shipment samples. It's a pleasure to be able to showcase the final product and we are really pleased with how it's turned out. Given that we also have a more delicate washed African coffee on this list, we took the decision to develop this one a little more in the roast to emphasise body and sweetness, partly with a view to producing a great SO espresso as well as a plump and crowd-pleasing filter. I'm convinced that we've done just that. In the cup I find lots of toffee-apple notes, dark cherry fruit and a full body. As espresso the acidity is moderate and well-balanced for a high altitude, washed African coffee and carries a fragrant hint of sweet almond which this makes it a delicious brew with both with or without milk.
Tasting notes - Toffee apple, hibiscus and dark cherry
Suitable for - All brewing methods