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Our Head of coffee
“When grinding, this coffee has a rich blackcurrant syrup smell. Upon tasting, the blackcurrant flavours shine through and are absolutely lip-smacking. This intensity means it extracts particularly well in cafetière or espresso. A rounded, citrus acidity means it will work equally well with milk or as a black coffee. It’s juicy mouthfeel completes the package, making this a truly brilliant coffee.
Kigoma is a district in the Southern Province of Rwanda, where coffee is grown by families in their small hillside gardens. These tiny plantations usually have no more than 100 coffee trees and no means to process the cherries, so they’re taken to local villages (often by bicycle taxi) where they’re bought by representatives from local washing stations, such as those run by BUF.
These washing stations pay competitive prices for the finest cherries and build strong relationships with farmers over time. Quality is of the utmost importance to maintain the reputation of the area’s coffee, so traceability is maintained throughout the many stages of processing.
The Remera washing station, from which this coffee hails, was built by BUF coffee in 2003. It was the first step which Epiphanie, the owner of BUF Coffee, took into the world of exporting coffee. Things were a challenge at first, but Epiphanie knew that by reducing the number of people in the supply chain - between farmer and exporter - she could increase the amount of money each coffee grower gets paid (much like Stephen’s goal when he launched Pact).
Epiphany had only six years of education and seven children to care for, but with help from USAID, she became the first woman to own a coffee washing station in Rwanda. She has since won Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government award and inspired countless women across Rwanda (including her own daughters) to become more involved in the coffee industry.
As soon as they arrive at the washing station, the cherries are put onto raised mesh beds, where they’re individually inspected for ripeness, blemishes and insect damage, all of which can cause flavour issues in the final cup of coffee. They’re then emptied into a large floatation tank, where less dense, lower quality cherries float to the surface and are removed for commodity coffee.
The cherries then flow into a Kenyan-built depulper where the outer layer is removed, leaving the green bean and mucilage. A slow flowing channel of water carries this coffee to fermentation tanks, which separate out lighter cherries for lower quality coffee again. After the water is drained, 12 hours of natural fermentation takes place in the shade, after which the beans are rinsed and soaked in fresh water awaiting their turn on the sorting beds. These shaded, plastic mesh beds enable further quality checks, after which they’re placed on mountainside drying beds that will dry the beans to a humidity level of 12% over a period of 14 days.
We love coffee, it is our life, my three sons and four daughters have all grown up around coffee. I started the BUF cooperative whilst they were young and seeing my success has inspired each of them to find their own unique role within the coffee industry in Kigali.
Two of my daughters have opened their own mills and now sell coffee directly themselves. My sons, Sam and Aloys, work as managing director and logistics director at BUF and Habimana looks after cherry logistics. Alvera is a nurse but also oversees the processing of coffee at our wet mills (she is very busy), and finally Uwimana is a cashier at a Nyamagabe site.
My son Sam has now taken over the day to day management of the business, which is now expanding into other provinces of Rwanda. But I still enjoy calling on all of the washing stations each morning after my prayers to see how they’re getting along and to check on the nights coffee deliveries!
|ROAST PROFILE||Light Espresso|
|TASTING NOTE||Blackcurrant syrup|