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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. Its juicy mouthfeel completes the package, making this a truly brilliant coffee.”
Kigoma is a district in Southern Province, Rwanda, coffee is grown by families in their gardens on the many hills. Families tend to have very small patches of land, planted out with just a hundred coffee trees or so, it is rare that they use chemical fertilizer and access to pesticides in minimal. Coffee cherry is taken to a local village, often by bicycle taxi, where it is bought by representatives from local washing stations who must build strong relationships with farmers in the area, as well as pay competitive pricing, it is a tough job to ensure that only the best coffee is purchased at this point. Coffee is then driven to the local washing station where traceability to each region is maintained across the many stages of processing carried out at the BUF washing stations.
The Remera washing station was built by BUF coffee in 2003 and was the first step which Epiphany 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 Epiphany 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. Epiphany has inspired countless women across Rwanda to become more involved in the coffee industry, inspired by their mother two of Epiphany’s daughters now own their own export businesses whilst another has recently become supervisor at the family’s new washing station.
Epiphany’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 Epiphany 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.
On arrival of coffee cherries at the washing station they are immediately put out on raised mesh beds where they are individually inspected to check they are fully ripe, not overripe, and free from blemishes or insect bites which can cause issues in the final cup of coffee. This part of the process is almost universally unique and where it happens elsewhere it is never on this scale!
Coffee cherries are then added to a large flotation tank, less dense cherries float to the surface and are removed, these will be used for C class coffee once the rest of the coffee has been processed. The coffee then flows into a Kenyan built 4 block depulper where the coffee cherry is removed from the outside leaving green bean and mucilage stuck together, a slow flowing channel of water is used to move this coffee to fermentation tanks, on route lighter, less dense beans are washed into a separate tank for processing with the C class coffee. The beans are drained of water and allowed to begin natural fermentation (think sourdough starter style) which lasts for 12 hours under the shade, so the rising sun does not overheat the beans.
Following their fermentation the beans are rinsed and once again moved through slow moving water channels to soaking baths where they will sit in fresh water until space is created on the sorting beds with water being changed every 8 hours to prevent further fermentation taking place. Whilst still wet the green coffee is place on plastic mesh bed under shade and women sort it once again searching for beans which are off colour, with machine damage or insect damage, reducing the chance of bad flavours in the final cup. Once sorted the cherries are put out to begin drying on the beds which cover the mountain side, beans are covered with black netting during the hot midday sun to prevent drying happening too fast, with an aim to dry the coffee to a humidity level of 12% in a time of 14 days.
|TASTING NOTE||Blackcurrant syrup|