Rwanda, Musasa Dukundekawa Ruli Bitinze
- Farm: Ruli
- Varietal: Red Bourbon
- Processing: Fully Washed and dried on screens
- Altitude: 1,700 to 2,000 metres above sea level
- 2,100 co-op members deliver from their smallholdings, plus independents
- Region: Ruli Sector, Gakenke District of Northern Province
The Musasa Dukundekawa cooperative has three washing stations lying high in Rwanda’s rugged northwest, Ruli sits around 1,999 metres above sea level. This was the first washing station, built with the support of the USAID-financed PEARL project, a transformational programme which switched the focus from an historic emphasis on quantity to one of quality, thus opening Rwanda up to the much more highly-valued specialty coffee market. The programme and its successor, SPREAD, has been invaluable in helping Rwanda’s small-scale coffee farmers to rebuild their production in the wake of the devastating 1994 genocide and the 1990s world coffee crash.
Musasa Dukundekawa now owns three washing stations and is one of Rwanda’s larger cooperatives, with 2,100 members. Ruli also buys and processes cherries from an additional 150 farmers in the area. Most of these small scale producers own less than a quarter of a hectare of land. Musasa Dukundekawa gives these small farmers the chance to combine their harvests and process cherries centrally. Farmers who work with Musasa Dukundekawa have seen their income at least double, and the co-op produces some outstanding lots for the specialty market year after year. ‘Dukundekawa’ means ‘let’s love coffee’ in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda’s official language).
As at most washing stations in Rwanda, women do the majority of the hand sorting. This takes place in two stages on the covered pre-drying tables and on the drying tables. The washed beans are moved from the wet fermentation tanks onto the pre-drying tables, where they are intensively sorted for around six hours. Next, the beans are moved onto the drying tables for around 14 days (depending on the weather), where they are sorted again for defects, turned regularly and protected from rain and the midday sun by covers. The coffee is then stored in parchment in Ruli’s purpose-built warehouse prior to final dry-milling and hand-sorting in Kigali.
An excellent example of a high-quality African coffee with a characteristic brightness and tropical fruit notes. It performed very well in the Rwanda Program ‘Cup of Excellence’ competition, scoring over 89 points. It is quite sensitive to roasting, with greater acidity and fruit at lighter roasts and more body and balance as roasting progresses. This coffee can surprise people, usually in a good way!
Tanzania, Halambo AA
- Farm: Smallholders delivering to CMS Tanzania
- Varietal: Bourbon Kent (KP423)
- Processing: Natural and dried on African Beds
- Altitude: Approx. 1,800 metres above sea level
- Owner: Halambo Farmer’s Group
- Town/City: Halambo
- Region: Mbozi District, Mbeya Region
The Halambo Farmers’ Group consists of approximately 200 smallholder farmers who farm less than one hectare, on average, near the the villages of Halambo, Halungu and Harpangala, deep in the mountainous Mbeya region of Southwest Tanzania. Coffee is the main source of cash income.
Smallholder coffee farmers living in the region face significant challenges. Youth disengagement, lack of access to resources for inputs and lack of training all pose threats to the continuity of coffee farming. Additionally, many of these smallholder farmers have older, disease-prone varietals and do not have access to new rootstock to renovate their coffee plots. On average, trees in the region are 50 years old. CMS has been working with the Halambo group since the beginning of 2014, providing them with extension services, training, and access to finance and processing facilities. CMS, together with the Tanzanian Coffee Research Institute (TACRI), is working to increase farmers’ access to higher yielding, more disease-resistant varietals. Farmers from the region will also participate in the Coffee Partnership for Tanzania (CPT), a partnership enabled and co-funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This Halambo AA lot has been selected by CMS according to collection day and quality. After being selectively handpicked and then sorted again on sorting tables at collection centres, the coffee is pulped within 12 hours of harvest. Wet parchment is separated into ‘heavies’ and ‘lights’ using water channels and is then covered and fermented in tanks for between 12-36 hours depending on weather conditions (or until the mucilage is adequately removed). The parchment coffee is then soaked and washed through sorting channels again, where it is further graded according to density.
The parchment coffee is then dried on raised coffee beds. Drying parchment is regularly turned to avoid mould and to encourage even drying, and is protected with black shade netting during the heat of the day to avoid cracking and again with nylon sheets at night to avoid dew. After drying, coffee is sorted according to size. AA lots are composed of the largest and most dense beans.
This coffee is a real pleasure to drink and gains a fruity complexity from its processing. It responds very well to light roasting which delivers both fragrance and a full range of flavours.