Flavours: Red Grape, Blood Orange and Nutmeg Spice.
SCAA Score: 86
Where is it from?
In Rwanda, coffee has brought hope for a better future since the dark days of Civil War that shook the country back in 1994. Coffee has been used as a vehicle for positive change in the years that have followed, and the country is now rightly heralded as a top producer of fine speciality coffee.
Coffee was introduced to Rwanda in 1903 by German missionaries. As a cash crop, it received government backing but the focus was very much on quantity rather than quality. However, the impact of the world coffee crisis in the late 1990s, when prices fell for several years below the cost of production, caused many Rwandan coffee farmers to rethink their position. Working hand in hand with the Rwandan Coffee Board (OCIR Café), international NGOs such as USAID, the Gates Foundation, and other coffee-focused organisations, a speciality coffee sector was created in the early 2000s.
Rwanda is blessed with ideal coffee growing conditions that include high altitude, regular rainfall, volcanic soils with good organic structure and an abundance of Bourbon. The vast majority of Rwandan coffee is produced by smallholders of which there are thought to be around half a million, with parcels of land often not much larger than just one hectare per family, with an average of approximately 180 trees each. Coffee is grown in most parts of the country, with particularly large concentrations along Lake Kivu in the west and in the southern province. Rwandan smallholders organise themselves into cooperatives and share the services of centralised wet-mills – or washing stations as they are known locally. Flowering takes place between September and October and the harvest runs from March to July with shipments starting in late May / early June.Gasharu was built in 2015 by Celestin Rumenerangabo, and became fully operational in 2016. Celestin comes from a background in coffee, with experience building a well-known speciality coffee washing station in 2006, named Birembo. Gasharu has a membership of 539 farmers who deliver cherry to the station, growing at altitudes ranging from between 1600-1800 masl. The station itself sits at 1670 masl and is located in the Gatare Cell of the Karimbi Sector, above Lake Kivu in the west of Rwanda. This year the station processed 254 tons of cherry and Celestin hopes to improve this next year with an emphasis on maintaining the high quality.
Once collected, the cherry is passed through a Mckinnon 3 disc pulper before undergoing 12-hour dry fermentation, followed by 8-hour wet soaking. After this, the coffee is then sorted in density grading channels before being transferred to raised African beds to dry for between 16 and 20 days. The parchment is then transferred to Kigali and to RTC’s dry mill for parchment removal, bagging and export.
This coffee scored a very high 86 in SCAA cupping. It is roasted to a medium profile with flavour notes of red grape, blood orange and nutmeg spice and sweet and rounded cup.