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Rwanda

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Rwanda FT Dukunde Kawa Musasa

Musasa is a town in the Gakenke district of northern Rwanda. The mill that processes the coffee is called Dukunde Kawa Musasa. The cooperative has over 2000 members, but when you realize that in Rwanda each farmer has less than 200 trees (they don't even talk in terms of hectares or acres), this is not huge. Dukunde Kawa did well in the 2010 Cup of Excellence, winning 2nd place with a score of 90.08 and 7th place with 88.16! The mill is at 2000 meters, with coffee grown at 1500-2000 meters at most. At the higher altitudes the coffee ripens later, part of the reason this coffee always seems to arrive long after our other Rwanda lots. The altitude also means fairly cool fermentation temperatures when performing the wet process on the coffee, and long fermentation times. This, along with the careful cherry sorting before and after picking from the tree, and the Bourbon cultivar, greatly influences the Rwanda flavor profile. It's a coffee that has great classic character, sharing some aspects with Bourbon type coffees from Central America. The bean is dense; the flavors exist in a compact range, classic bittersweet balance, and a joy to roast.

This is classic Rwanda flavor profile. Dry fragrance ranges from floral (violets) and sweet red fruits to a more bittersweet chocolate, depending on roast levels. I was really impressed with the sweet accents at the lighter ranges, and the wet aroma is very candy-like, saltwater taffy, caramel and vanilla, at City+ roast level. The cup follows suit; very sweet, caramelized sugars, cherry hard-candy notes, violet floral notes at the lightest roasts as well as tangerine/mandarin citrus. It's a cup that works well all along the roast spectrum, but I was so amazed by the lightest roast level (with 3 days rest after roasting, by the way) I must recommend keeping it as light as you can. The medium body has a silky mouthfeel, very refined overall.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Painting on the Musasa coffee warehouse, Gakenke Rwanda.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: AA-AAA
Region: Musasa, Gakenke District, North
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late April 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15+ Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Arabica BM 139
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Sweet, candy-like notes, floral and tangerine in light roast
Roast: City roast was so amazing, I must recommend it highly. But in reality the coffee worked very well all the way from City to Full City + roast level.
Compare to: East African brightness, mildly Kenya-like sweet citrus, balanced, refined flavor profile.
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Rwanda Remera Nyarusiza

We have offered coffee from the twin washing stations (wet mills) of Nyarusiza and Remera for four years now and the quality keeps improving with each successive harvest. These mills are part of a unique private cooperative that is organized with farmer-members, but is family-owned company called Bufcafe (or Bufcoffee to the Anglophone). Bufcoffee was started with the determination of Epiphanie Muhirwa, and she still oversees the company while her son Samuel is in charge of the washing stations and dry mill in Kalambi. These coffees have done very well in the Cup of Excellence competitions, and in fact Sweet Maria's placed 2nd in the SCAA Roaster's Choice competition with a roast of this coffee. The Nyarusiza and Remera areas have great altitude for coffee ranging from 1700 to 2000 meters. Like much of Rwanda, this coffee is grown from older Bourbon types that were not replaced with newer hybrids largely due to neglect from the coffee buyers and a lack of funding for a government initiative. After the horrors of the genocide, coffee was seen as a way to aid the rural population, and the great potential for quality was discovered, featuring older types of the traditional Bourbon varietal. The coffee is wet processed using a single fermentation and then a secondary water bath, and dried immediately on raised beds. This is called "African style beds", and it promotes even, rapid drying (more-so than patio drying in many cases) because the air flows around the wet parchment coffee from above and below. It's ideal for this climate, and allows the coffee to be culled while it dries to remove defects.

This is a classic Rwanda cup that can take a wide range of roasts, light to dark. The dry fragrance has a balanced sweetness, brown sugar and molasses, brown bread and cinnamon, with dark spice tea aromas. Wet aromatics have rose-like floral notes, and caramelized cane sugar sweetness. This cup has lots of sweet mulling spices to it; dried orange peel, cinnamon bark, clove, and allspice. One of my test roasts was very light in appearance, City roast but barely though first crack and rather patchy looking. But it was great! There was sweet citrus, lemon oil, and the rose floral note as found in the wet aroma. It's very balanced at City+ through Full City roast; bittersweet roasty coffee flavors in proportion to fruit and aromatic accent notes. The body has a certain density and creamy texture to it, a buttery quality that lingers into the finish. All of this adds up to a character much more restrained than a bright, flashy Kenya coffee that has enough depth to discover new flavors with each brewing. Keep tasting it, and you will find more to like in this lot... at least that is my experience.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Josie, the manager of the Nyarusiza washing station.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: A1
Region: Kamegeri (Nyarusiza) and Remera
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: December 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Restrained brightness, complexity, dense mouthfeel
Roast: City to Full City
Compare to: Graceful and balanced East African coffee.
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Rwanda Cup of Excellence -Kopakama Coop

Kopakama won 2 spots in the top 10 of the 2010 Cup of Excellence. This lot is the #5, one of my favorites during the event. It was air-freighted to us this year, since it is such a small amount and we don't want to see it languish in some humid port somewhere. Kopakama has 823 farmer-members, and the cooperative washing station (ie. wet mill) 1757 Meters. The coffee farms are situated within a range from 1700 to 2000 meters on the west-facing slopes toward Lake Kivu. The Rutsiro district is really otherworldly; dramatic steep mountains plunging down into the depths of azure blue Lake Kivu. Because to of the tectonic activity in this spreading rift zone, carbon dioxide and methane gas vents are found along the shore and bubble up through the lake itself. Even with it's unique chemistry, Lake Kivu has rich fisheries. Since the lake is at 1750 meters, all the coffee grown in the area, even that right at the lake level itself, is very high grown. This was my second time as a judge at a Rwanda CoE, but my first to visit the far Western areas, where Kopakama is located.

Kopakama looks and cups like a dense, high-grown Bourbon coffee, which is exactly what it is! The dry ground Kopakama coffee has a caramel-vanilla fragrance that hints at good things to come. Red berries, honey and almond cookie scent are also present, and become more distinct in the wet aromatics when I add the hot water. The cup is very balanced and sweet. Infused with sweet lemon and berry, the sweetness of this cup that is apparent in the aroma takes some time to register in tasting. It needs to cool down from brew temperature a bit in order to "open up" flavor-wise. Dense body suits this very "compact" flavor profile; it's a coffee I think of as well-structured, muscular. I think this comes from the brightness, the acidity that "knits" together the flavors, as well as body. The sweet and clean fruit notes (stone fruits emerge as the cup cools) pair well with a rich, floral-laced honey sweetness.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Orange-looking Bourbon along Lake Kivu, In Rutsiro district just north of Kopakama.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: A1
Region: Mushubati, Rutsiro, Western Rwanda
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: December 2010 Arrival Vac Pack
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Majority Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Clean, well-structued flavor profile, honey, fruited.
Roast: City+ to Full City. This is certainly a dense bean and can take dark roasts, but the nuance of the fruit and honey would be lost.
Compare to: More balanced and restrained than a Kenya, but having some of the brightness, fruit and sweetness.
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Rwanda FT Duhingekawa Women's Cooperative

Abakundakawa is a 1700 member cooperative that mills this coffee at the Rushashi washing station. The average altitude here is 1500 to 2000 meters for coffee production, the varietal is traditional Bourbon seedstock. The typical wet-process method is used, with sun-drying on raised beds or patio. This is fair trade certified, part of the USAID project in Rwanda to improve the quality of life, but it is also a special micro-lot separated from the bulk production of the Abakundakawa Rushashi group. This is picked and sorted exclusively by a 70 member women's group, Duhingekawa, and we have paid a premium for this particular lot that is returned directly to the women producers. Separate woman's cooperatives are not unusual (duhingekawa simply means "woman's coffee") , but marketing their coffee separately is rare. Sadly, the women's coops are often made up mostly of widows from the genocide. A while back I made a separate Duhingekawa page with additional photos and information about this group, since it is a bit too much to put here. I can't say why this coffee is better than the regular Rushahi lots, but in blind cupping it clearly is!

The fragrance here has soft floral notes and (a theme throughout the cup) a sweet citrus note. The wet aromatics is where the coffee comes to life; a bouquet of orange blossom and lemon oil hints; bright, sweet and floral. The cup fulfills the promise of the aromatics; citrus flowers, sweetness, vivid aftertaste, and a rather silky body (although not that heavy). It's a bright and vibrant flavor profile, especially at City+ roast level. The sweetness has a sweet brown malt flavor, caramelly, and lingers through the long aftertaste. I would not go too light here: My lighter City roasts were a bit baked-tasting and under-developed. Roasted and brewed well, it is a remarkably attractive cup, with Yirga Cheffe floral notes and flashes of Kenya brightness.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Typical day in Rushashi town in Gakenke district, Rwanda
Country: Rwanda
Grade: A1/A2
Region: Rushashi, Gakenke District
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: November 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Arabica BM 139
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright yet balanced
Roast: City+, Full City: this coffee was under-developed in flavor at City roast, and loses sweetness if roasted into 2nd crack too much.
Compare to: East African brightness, mildly Kenya-like in cup character, excellent aftertaste
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Rwanda FT Dukunde Kawa Musasa

Musasa is a town in the Gakenke district of northern Rwanda. The mill that processes the coffee is called Dukunde Kawa Musasa. The cooperative has over 2000 members, but when you realize that in Rwanda each farmer has less than 200 trees (they don't even talk in terms of hecatres or acres), this is not huge. Dukunde Kawa did well in the 2010 Cup of Excellence, winning 2nd place with a score of 90.08 and 7th place with 88.16! Congratulations! The mill is at 2000 meters, with coffee grown at 1500-2000 meters at most. This means fairly cool fermentation temperatures when performing the wet process on the coffee, and long fermentation times. This, along with the careful cherry sorting before and after picking from the tree, and the Bourbon cultivar, greatly influences the Rwanda flavor profile. It\'s a coffee that has great classic character, sharing some aspects with Bourbon type coffees from Central America. The bean is dense; the flavors exist in a compact range, classic bittersweet balance, and a joy to roast. This was a very late lot with Fair Trade certificate, offered by the Rwanda Coffee Authority, OCIR, but arrived in great condition. We repackaged it in Grainpro to ensure freshness as well with this nice lot.

The cup is classic Rwanda. Dry fragrance ranges from floral and sweet (violets) to a more bittersweet chocolate from light to darker roast levels. I was really impressed with the sweet accents at the lighter ranges, and the wet aroma is very candy-like, saltwater taffy, caramel and vanilla, at City+ roast level. The cup follows suit; very sweet, caramelized sugars, cherry hard-candy notes, violet floral notes at the lightest roasts as well as tangerine/mandarin citrus. It's a cup that works well all along the roast spectrum, but I was so amazed by the lightest roast level (with 3 days rest after roasting, by the way) I must recommend keeping it as light as you can. The medium body has a silky mouthfeel, very refined and elegant overall.





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Project Rwanda coffee bikes used for cargo - from my last trip there.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: AA-AAA
Region: Musasa, Gakenke District, North
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: July 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15+ Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Arabica BM 139
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Sweet, candy-like notes, floral and tangerine in light roast
Roast: City roast was so amazing, I must recommend it highly. But in reality the coffee worked very well all the way from City to Full City + roast level.
Compare to: East African brightness, mildly Kenya-like sweet citrus, balanced
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Rwanda Gikongoro Nyarusiza (Early 2010)

This lot is from a cooperative washing station (a wet mill for coffee processing) in the region of Gikongoro, Nyarusiza, near Butare. It's part of the greater Bufcafe (Bufcoffee) coop ... however you put it, a clumsy name, But coops aren't about fancy romantic names, and Bufcafe had several top spots in the first-ever Rwanda Cup of Excellence this past year. Their coffees were consistently excellent, and I remember them well because I was there as a judge! And just to see the director of Bufcafe, a shy petite lady they call Epiphane, thunder down the aisle to claim the awards at the podium, it was worth the airfare to Africa! She is a force. This area, in southwestern Rwanda not far from Burundi, has some of the best coffee farming areas, featuring older types of the traditional Bourbon varietal. With a range of 1300 to 1600 meters, this lot of high grown Bourbon has a compact physical density that performs well in a variety of roast conditions, air roast or drum roast. The coffee is wet processed and dried immediately on raised beds in the African style, which promotes even, rapid drying (more-so than patio drying in many cases) because the air flows around the wet parchment coffee from above and below. It's ideal for this climate, and allows the coffee to be culled while it dries to remove defects. This is a classic Rwanda cup. The dry fragrance has a balanced sweetness, sweet bread and cinnamon, with spice tea dark aromas. Wet aromatics have rose-like floral notes, and caramelized cane sugar sweetness. This cup has lots of sweet mulling spices to it; dried orange peel, cinnamon bark, clove, allspice. There is sweet citrus in the lighter roasts, lemon oil, a bittersweet tea finish. It's very balanced; bittersweet roasty coffee flavors in proportion to fruit and aromatic grace notes. The body is not heavy, and yet it has a creamy texture to it, and there is a buttery quality that lingers into the finish. All of this adds up to a character much more restrained than a bright, flashy Kenya coffee, that has enough depth to discover new flavors with each brewing. Rose floral notes emerge as the cup cools. Keep tasting it, and you will find more to like in this lot... at least that is my experience. Contrary to other East Africa coffees, I think the Rwanda benefits from a little more roast, City+ to Full City, because my lightest City roast samples had a slight grainy note and astringency in the finish.





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The washing station this lot originates at, Rwanda.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: AA
Region: Southwestern: Butare (Gikongoro, Nyarusiza)
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: January 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Restrained brightness, complexity, dense mouthfeel
Roast: City+ to Full City
Compare to: Graceful East African brightness and bittersweets. Clean and dynamic cup. This coffee is very balanced, and plays well to the cupping form, a "competition coffee." It might make the numbers seem high when considering the overall cup and the total score, hence the low cuppers correction.
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Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusiza (Early 2009)

This lot is from a cooperative washing station (a wet mill for coffee processing) in the region of Gikongoro, Nyarusiza, near Butare. It's part of the greater Bufcafe (Bufcoffee) coop ... however you put it, a clumsy name, But coops aren't about fancy romantic names, and Bufcafe had several top spots in the first-ever Rwanda Cup of Excellence this past year. Their coffees were consistently excellent, and I remember them well because I was there as a judge! And just to see the director of Bufcafe, a shy petite lady they call Epiphane, thunder down the aisle to claim the awards at the podium, it was worth the airfare to Africa! She is a force. This area, in southwestern Rwanda not far from Burundi, has some of the best coffee farming areas, featuring older types of the traditional Bourbon varietal. With a range of 1300 to 1600 meters, this lot of high grown Bourbon has a compact physical density that performs well in a variety of roast conditions, air roast or drum roast. The coffee is wet processed and dried immediately on raised beds in the African style, which promotes even, rapid drying (more-so than patio drying in many cases) because the air flows around the wet parchment coffee from above and below. It's ideal for this climate, and allows the coffee to be culled while it dries to remove defects. This is a classic Rwanda cup. The dry fragrance has a balanced sweetness, orange and cinnamon, with tea-like dark aromas. Wet aromatics have rose-like floral notes, and caramelized cane sugar sweetness. This cup has lots of sweet mulling spices to it; dried orange peel, cinnamon bark, clove, allspice. There is mild citrus, lemon oil, a bittersweet tea finish. It's very balanced; bittersweet roasty coffee flavors in proportion to fruit and aromatic grace notes. The body is not heavy, and yet it has a creamy texture to it, and there is a buttery quality that lingers into the finish. All of this adds up to a character much more restrained than a bright, flashy Kenya coffee, that has enough depth to discover new flavors with each brewing. Keep tasting it, and you will find more to like in this lot... at least that is my experience. NOTE: We noticed natural sisal fibers in this green coffee. They will blow into the chaff collector during roasting. We use a vacuum to clean these as we fill the bags, but are unable to remove all the fibers.





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The washing station this lot originates at, Rwanda, '08 image.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: AA
Region: Southwestern: Butare (Gkongoro, Nyarusiza)
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: January 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: Mostly Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Restrained brightness, complexity, creamy mouthfeel
Roast: City+ to Full City
Compare to: Graceful East African brightness and bittersweets. Clean and dynamic cup. This coffee is very balanced, and plays well to the cupping form, a "competition coffee." It might make the numbers seem high when considering the overall cup and the total score, hence the low cuppers correction.
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Rwanda Cup of Excellence Bufcafe Nyarusiza

We have offered Bufcafe coop coffees before (and in fact we have a non-CoE lot as I write this). I was so happy to see that they won so many places in the Cup of Excellent auction. Oddly, my favorite Bufcafe lot was not their top-placing ones, but this balanced, bright #18 lot. We split this lot with Cravens coffee, The Roasterie and Cafe Imports. This is from their Nyarusiza washing station (wet mill), near Nyamagabe. The dry fragrance has a really sweet "ginger snap cookie" smell, caramelly, with clean fruited scents. The wet aroma is floral, and it actually is reminicient of shampoo a bit ... That means its a soft floral and herbal scent, so balanced that it almost seems artificial, rather than fresh cut (real) flowers. There's a red apple scent as well. The cup has crisp red apple flavor, just as in the wet aromatics, what we call mallic acidity. There is a spice accent as well, of mild clove and allspice. There's pilsener malt sweetness, that emerges more in the finish, and a mild-yet-long-lasting aftertaste. As it cools, a citrus accent and brightness emerges in the cup. The body is fairly light, particularly at the roast level I recommend (and describe here): City +. As with all Rwanda coffees, there is danger of the occasional "potato defect" emerging in the cup, even in the best coffees. I had one when I was preparing the coffee for the review cupping. This is due to just one bean with physical damage that is then affected by a bacteria reaction in the plant, and it is endemic to the Lake Kivu area bordering Rwanda. It's kind of interesting to get one actually, it's an unmistakable smell, and you can sense it right away in the dry fragrance. Anyway, an important factor to appreciate this coffee is to taste it as it cools. It's rather restrained, closed in it's flavor profile when the cup is hot, but opens up immensely as the heat drops. This is when the sweetness and clean, crystal-clear character of this cup comes through.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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With ripe red cherry, and green unripe ones, a branch of Rwanda Bourbon part way through the harvest.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: A1
Region: Nyarusiza
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: March 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Majority Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Sweet, crisp, clean, crystal clear flavor profile.
Roast: City to City+. At City the roast looks very under-developed and perhaps a bit uneven and patchy. But the cup is very nice! Be sure to taste it as it cools.
Compare to: A light body, crisp, sweet profile, incredible as a vacuum brew as well.
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Rwanda Cup of Excellence Sovu-Maraba

I was really pleased to be a judge at the first-ever Rwanda Cup of Excellence competition, and to explore the array of samples that were submitted to find exemplary coffees from this special country. Coffee in Rwanda is produced by many, many small farmers, some with just a handful of coffee trees. The bring the freshly picked coffee cherries to cooperative wet mills, called "washing stations" for processing, and each 60 kg bag of exportable green coffee might be the product of no single farm, but tens of small producers. In the case of the Rwanda CoE lots, and this one in particular, the auction proceeds of this small 15 bag lot will be divided among a staggering list of small farmers. It's a logisitcal nightmare, but well worth the effort to share the glory and the monetary boost of the international auction. We bid on this lot with our friends at Intelligentsia Coffee, and although it ranked 19, it actually sold for more than the #3 lot in the auction. Clearly, others felt as we did, that this was a sleeper lot that actually deserved a much higher rank. But CoE is about uncovering a set of great coffees for buyers to select from ... not about absolute rankings. This is a very special lot from the Butare area (where we held the cupping). I didn't recognize the special quality of this cup at first because the dry fragrance is fairly closed and muted; there's a cookie-like sweetness, some citrus and soft chocolate notes. The wet aroma has restrained citrus and berry sweetness. At the preferred City to City + roast range, the cup seems more vivid than the aromatics would have suggested. It's light bodied, effervescent, with dynamic orange and berry brightness, and a toffee-caramel sweetness. It's a crystal clear flavor profile, clean, and lively. The key to this coffee is to taste it as it cools, when the flavors become more transparent and sweetness intensifies. Interestingly, the lighter body also has a density, a syrupy weight to the mouthfeel, and an emerging peach note as well. To think of all the miniscule coffee farms that contribute to produce such an elegant coffee flavor is amazing.



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Francois Xavier, a Maraba coop farmer, on my last trip to Rwanda for the CoE competition.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: A1
Region: Huye, Butare
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: March 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen
Varietal: Majority Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild intensity / Clean, transparent cup profile, super-sweet as the cup cools
Roast: Lighter roasts are recommended. At City the roast looks very under-developed and perhaps a bit patchy in surface color. But at these levels the cup is very nice!
Compare to: A stunning, sweet, effervescent, elegant cup. Try this as a vacuum brew.
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Rwanda Wet-Process Robusta

Rwanda Robusta? It's the first time I heard of it as well. Rwanda is known for it's great high-grown arabica of the older Bourbon cultivar type. West Africa is known for low-grown robusta coffee of fair-to-poor quality. So how do we get to higher-grown Robusta from Rwanda, and why? While Robusta coffees never challenge good arabicas for brewed cup quality, they have a place for espresso and blending use. It is quite hard to find high quality robusta with clean cup flavors, ones that do not detract from the flavor of classic, continental-type espresso blends, add crema, body, and positive bittersweet flavors. They are especially useful as an espresso component for bar drinks with milk, macchiato, cappuccino, etc. This is a wet-process robusta grown at 600-1000 meters (quite high for robusta), and the cup is of such quality that it can be brewed in a French press straight, if you really want extra caffeine that is. (Robusta averages 2x the caffeine as arabica coffees). While the green coffee isn't beautiful to the eye, it is well-prepared and roasts very evenly. The dry fragrance has definite robusta aromatics, but not in the negative sense (rubbery notes) of low quality types. It has Brazil nut hint, toasted coconut, and dark chocolate. Wet aromas clearly indicate a robusta, but with nice toasted nut and semi-sweet chocolate character, sweeter than the dry fragrance. (Sweet is a word rarley used to describe robusta!) The cup has low acidity, and an aggressive, intense, husky nature. The chocolate flavors have nutty suggestions, and these flavors are enhanced by the heavy body. There's flavors of cocoa powder, and a bit of maple syrup sweetness as well! The acidity is extremely low, the aftertaste has coconut husk tones, and is drying. This is great for espresso! NOTE: While I have scored this coffee and described it according to traditional cupping practice, we are recommending it for espresso blends, as 10-20% of the total ingredients. It can be quaffed as a brewed coffee, which speaks to it's high quality as a robusta in itself. But we don't offer it for that use.





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Robusta coffee cherries; symetrical clumping habit, even ripening, great production.
Country: Rwanda
Grade: n/a
Region: Eastern Rwanda
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: January 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Coffea Canephora (Robusta)
Intensity/Prime Attribute: BOLD Intensity / Crema, bittersweet flavors, chocolate, cocoa
Roast: This depends on your use, but I would say that robustas need a minimum of Full City to Full City+ meaning the coffee has audibly began 2nd crack.
Compare to: A unique source for a clean robusta coffee ... Can be brewed as a potent French Press coffee, and a bit of cream (ahem!) sweetens the cup. This coffee is part of our Farm Gate pricing transparency program.
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Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusiza (Early 2008)

This lot is from a cooperative washing station (a wet mill for coffee processing) in the region of Gikongoro, Nyarusiza, near Butare. This area, in southwestern Rwanda adjacent to Burundi, has some of the best coffee farming areas, featuring old trees of the traditional Bourbon varietal. With a range of 1300 to 1600 meters, this lot of high grown Bourbon has a compact physical density that performs well in a variety of roast conditions, air roast or drum roast. The coffee is wet processed and dried immediately on raised beds in the African style, which promotes even, rapid drying (more-so than patio drying in many cases) because the air flows around the wet parchment coffee from above and below. This is a classic Bourbon type Rwanda flavor profile: some lemon, bittersweet chocolate, cherry ... dark tones with a bittersweet edge, overlayed by citrusy grace notes as the cup cools. It's very balanced; bittersweet roasty coffee flavors in proportion to fruited flavors. The cup has sweet and sour Mandarin notes, fading into a good coffee-flavor bittersweetness. Coffee flavor? In coffee? Sometimes it is difficult to describe the pleasant bitterness of coffee in terms of other things (most often, bittersweet notes in chocolate). But sometimes the tangy bittersweets seem to refer to no other flavor but coffee itself. That's the case here, I feel. But there is more too, with a syrupy body and these lingering citrus hints. There's also a trace of that winey accent to the fruit, something you might find in a neighboring Kenya. In a slightly darker roast (FC, rather than C+) my mandarin citrus turned to a black currant fruit note: very nice! I get slight herbal and floral secondary flavors too, lurking in the background, slight rosemary highlights, and in the finish a twist of lemon peel.





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Country: Rwanda
Grade: AA
Region: Southwestern: Butare (Gkongoro, Nyarusiza)
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: February 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Bright and balanced
Roast: City+ to FC
Compare to: Graceful East African brightness and bittersweets. Clean and dynamic cup
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Rwanda Butare Bourbon WP Decaf

This is a Butare-region coffee from western Rwanda, and the coffee is nearly pure Bourbon varietal from a range of 1500-1800 meters. My flavortite Rwanda lots in the past years have been this area (Buramera in particular), and the fact that it is from such high altitude, and that is traditional Bourbon culitivar ... well those are the perks of Rwanda coffee. The country was planted extensively in Bourbon and was not an innovative coffee-producer in the years when all the new hybrids were being pushed ... a blessing in disguise that they missed this trend. There was extra selection done to prepare this lot for export. This lot was specifically hand-prepared at a milling factory that has a UV cleaning (color sorting) and grading facility. UV also detects any potato-taste in coffee, a problem that can sometimes occur in Rwanda lots. Then it was sent for decaffeination using the non-chemical water process method, and survived with great Rwanda cup character. The cup is very balanced, like it's non-decaf counterpart, with pastry-like sweetness in the dry fragrance and floral aromatics when wet. The cup is, again, balanced, well-structured. At a City+ roast it has lively acidity, tangerine citrus notes, a delicate floral component, and finishes with a hint of pancake syrup (you know, the fake stuff). At FC roast, I made one of the absolute best Single Origin decaf espressos I have had with this coffee! I highly recommend it for espresso uses, or as part of a low-caf espresso.





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Ripe red Bourbon coffee cherry in Rwanda. This tree is outside the cupping station we held the Rwanda CoE competition at in late
Country: Rwanda
Grade: Estate Grade
Region: Butare, Western Rwanda
Processing: Wet-Processed
Arrival Date: October 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: Bourbon Cultivar
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Classic balanced cup with citrus accents
Roast: City+ to FC. I prefer the medium City+ for brewing, and FC to FC+ for espresso.
Compare to: Balanced brightness, and doubles as a great decaf espresso coffee. For more info on the Water process and other decaf methods, see my article:
http://www.sweetmarias.com/health.eco.html
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Rwanda Duhingekawa Women's Cooperative (Fair Trade Certified)

Abakundakawa is a 1700 member cooperative that mills its coffee at the Rushashi washing station. The average altitude here is 1600 to 1800 meters for coffee production, the varietal is traditional Bourbon seedstock, and the typical wet process method is used, with sun-drying on raised beds or patio. This is fair trade certified, part of the USAID project in Rwanda to improve the quality of life ... but it is also a special micro-lot separated from the bulk production of the Abakundakawa coop. This is produced exclusively by a women's group, Duhingekawa, a 70 member sub-group of the coop, and we have paid a premium for this particular lot that is returned directly to the women producers. I made a separate Duhingekawa page with additional photos and information about this group, since it is a bit too much to put here. I cupped it against various A1 and A2 lots from other nearby coop lots, and found a very distinct, beautiful character in this coffee. The fragrance here has soft floral notes and (a theme throughout the cup) a sweet citrus note. The aroamtic is where the coffee comes to life; a bouquet of orange blossom, slightly winey. The cup fulfills the promise of the aromatics: jasmine and citrus flowers, sweetness, vivid aftertaste, and a remarkaby silky body (although not that heavy). This is still somewhat of a delicate cup, and really requires the right roast to reveal it's true character. My lighter City roasts were baked-tasting, under-developed. It was better with a few days rest, but it never had a very "complete" profile. The sweetness has a sweet brown malt flavor, caramelly, and lingers through the long aftertaste. This is not a "powerhouse cup", but roasted and brewed correctly, it is remarkably attractive, with Yirgacheffe and Kenya hints.





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Country: Rwanda
Grade: A1
Region: Abakundakawa, Rushashi Washing Station
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: May 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen
Varietal: 100% Bourbon Arabica BM 139
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Balance and depth
Roast: City+, Full City: this coffee was under-developed in flavor at City roast, and loses sweetness if roasted into 2nd crack too much.
Compare to: East African brightness, mildly Kenya-like in cup character, excellent aftertaste
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