Rwanda coffee update part 2


If you haven't already read part 1 of our Rwanda update then please click on the link. 

After spending several days travelling, the second half of the week found us focusing on washing stations located on the banks of lake Kivu. We based ourselves for several nights in Kibuye, a beautiful location with a few lovely hotels situated right next to the water. This was my second visit to Cormoron Lodge, one of the most beautiful places I've ever stayed. I took the photo below from my balcon:

Cormoran Lodge, Kibuye

Birembo

This washing station is located a couple of hours drive to the south of Kibuye close to Lake Kivu. It's a well operated fairly large operation buying harvested coffee cherries from about 600 farmers. The washing station is owned and operated by Dormans, a Kenya based coffee exporter. It's a well run and focused operation and we expect to have some coffee from them later in the year.

Hand sorting of parchment during the drying process:

This photo shows how different lots are kept separate. This is A1 grade processed on the 19th of April:

Gishyita

This co-operative is one of our favourites and we've been using their coffee now for several years. It's a small co-operative operation run by 86 members (of which 26 are women). The coffee they process comes from the trees on a farm owned by the co-operative and also from trees on their own land. In addition, they buy cherries from around 100 local farmers who are not co-operative members. This year they invested some money to build new flotation and fermentation tanks as well as new grading channels. We contributed $1000 to the project and it was great to see the work that had been done. These improvements will help them to produce more high quality coffee which in turn will help to make the co-operative more profitable. 

During the visit we spent some time discussing experimental processing. The co-operative management were very happy to produce two microlots for us this year. One is a very small washed lot and the other a honey processed lot. We recently received samples of both and the results were excellent! These should arrive in October this year.

 Gishyita washing station from the air:

Gishyita washing station

Gishyita hand sort cherries prior to processing. This is not frequently done in Rwanda but helps to improve quality by pre sorting for defects:

Coffee cherry sorting 

Hand sorting of processed parchment. After the washing process coffee is hand sorted under cover before it is moved onto drying tables in the sun:

Bwishaza:

On our final day we visited Bwishaza co-operative. This washing station is situated to the north of Kibuye and takes several hours by road. Bosco suggested we go across the lake by boat for 45 minutes followed by a 10 minutes on the back of a motorbike. This proved to be much more enjoyable than several hours in a 4x4! This is a large co-operative of around 590 members. 85% of grow and harvest coffee and they also buy coffee cherries from around 300 other local farmers. They were very pleased to receive visitors and had not had coffee buyers visit for several years. This is partly due to their fairly tricky location! They agreed to process a very small batch of natural coffee for us this year as a trial. The samples we received were very good and we should be receiving this 30kg nanolot later in the year. We've managed to buy one larger lot from the co-operative and plan to visit them again next year. 

Our boat for the lake crossing:

Boat crossing lake Kivu

Coffee drying on raised beds:

Bwishaza, Rwanda coffee

Bradley helping out with some hand sorting:

 

Hand sorting of coffee in Rwanda

We hope you've enjoyed the second half of the Rwanda update. Our coffees will be arriving during October and November and will be available towards the end of 2016 through most of 2017. This year we are experimenting with vacuum packing of most of the coffee into foil bags in boxes. This should make a significant difference to the shelf life and gives the best level of protection during shipping to the UK.