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Buy NowOur Head of coffee
"As soon as this coffee was ground, the smell made me think of rich blackcurrant syrup. Then I tasted it, and those ripe blackcurrant flavours were absolutely lip-smacking. Though Kigoma lends itself to all brew methods, its intensity means it extracts especially well into a cafetiere or espresso. A rounded, citrus acidity means it will work equally well for milk fans as for those who like their coffee black, and its juicy mouthfeel completes the package, making this a truly brilliant coffee."
In the south of Rwanda you’ll find the province of Kigoma, a hilly area favoured by coffee-growing families who set up small plantations in their gardens. Made up of no more than 100 coffee trees each, these miniature farms don’t tend to have access to pesticides or fertiliser. Once their cherries have been picked, the families load them onto bicycle taxis to take them to a local village.
In the villages the cherries are bought by representatives from the local BUF washing stations, which is where the cherries are processed. BUF representatives have a tough job on their hands; as well as maintaining good relations with the farmers, determining a good price for each coffee and sorting the good coffee from the mediocre, they also have to keep track of each coffee’s origin to ensure absolute traceability.
The Remera washing station was built by BUF coffee in 2003 and was the first step which Epiphanie took into coffee export, she recognised that by reducing the number of people in the supply chain between the farmer and exporter she could increase the amount of money paid to coffee growers, much like Stephen had when he opened Pact coffee a decade later. Having only had 6 years of education and bringing up a family of 7 children on her own, with a little help from USAID Epiphanie became the first woman to own a coffee washing station in Rwanda, going on to win Africa’s most Influential Women in business and government award. Epiphanie has inspired countless women across Rwanda to become more involved in the coffee industry, inspired by their mother two of Epiphanie’s daughters now own their own export businesses whilst another has recently become supervisor at the family’s new washing station.
Epiphanie’s son Sam has now taken over day to day management of the business which is currently expanding into other province’s of Rwanda, this means Epiphanie can concentrate on working with coffee producers on quality and production quantity improvements that are delivering coffee cherry to the Remera & Nyarusiza washing stations close to her home. She did reveal that she enjoys calling all of the washing stations each morning following her prayers to check on the nights coffee deliveries and that everything is running smoothly with processing.
As soon as the coffee cherries arrive at the BUF washing station they’re spread on raised mesh beds for inspection. Any that are overripe, underripe, blemished or show signs of insect damage are removed, since these can lower the quality of the final cup of coffee. This is one of the only places in the world where this type of strict quality check takes place, especially on this scale.
The flotation tank is next; the cherries are poured into the water and any that are less dense (and as such lower quality) will float to the top. These are skimmed off and used for commodity coffee rather than specialty.
The beans that make it this far are next moved into a Kenyan-built four-block de-pulper, which removes the outer layer of the cherry, leaving the green bean and pulpy mucilage. A slow flow of water carries this coffee to fermentation tanks, while lighter beans are washed into the commodity tanks.
Our specialty beans are then drained of water and sit in their shaded fermentation tanks for 12 hours, while natural fermentation takes place (much the same as in a sourdough starter).
Following fermentation, the beans get a quick rinse and are carried to fresh-water soaking baths, where they sit until space is made for them on sorting beds. The sorting beds are essentially shaded plastic mesh, which is tended by women who examine the colour of the beans for signs of lower quality.
Drying is next, which takes place on the mountain side. The beans that have made it through all the checks and inspections are covered in black netting to ensure they don’t dry out too quickly in the heat of the midday sun. The aim is to dry the coffee to a humidity level of 12% over a period of 14 days, to ensure the coffee tastes as good as it possibly can.
|MOUTHFEEL||Juicy and Syrup|
|SWEETNESS||Syrup and Fructose|
|TASTING NOTE||Blackcurrant syrup|