Region: Nyamasheke District, Cyato Sector, Western Province
Owner: Tropic Coffee Company
Altitude: 1,750-2,100 metres above sea level
Washing Station: Remera
Variety: 100% Red Bourbon
Processing: Fully Washed and sun-dried on African raised beds.
Layered and complex. Black and blue fruits. Molasses and winey acidity.
About Nyarusiza Kawanziza (with thanks to Melbourne Coffee Merchants)
We are very excited to share this 100% Red Bourbon lot with you from the breathtaking and promising Nyamasheke District, which is located by Lake Kivu in the Western Province of Rwanda.
This 100% Red Bourbon coffee lot was produced by 27 smallholder producers who farm coffee in the area surrounding Cyato washing station, which was established in 2017 and is one of three washing stations owned and operated by Tropic Coffee Company. Day to day operations at Cyato are overseen by the station manager, Jean Pierre Hakizimana, who ensures that the coffees are harvested and processed with meticulous care.
Cyato sits at 1,930m above sea level, overlooking the beautiful landscape of this unique coffee-growing region. The farms that supply cherry to Cyato washing station are very small – averaging just a quarter of a hectare – and situated at staggeringly high elevations up to 2,200m above sea level. Coffee is grown as a cash crop, alongside subsistence food crops like maize, beans and sorghum and some livestock like goats and chickens.
The coffees that make up this lot were grown alongside the beautiful Lake Kivu, a fresh-water lake situated at 1,460m above sea level. The lake is responsible for the nutrient-rich, silty and sandy soil of the surrounding area, and contributes to the cool and steady climate of the region, with year-round temperatures sitting between 22°C-25°C. This cool climate is ideal for the slow ripening of coffee cherries, leading to denser beans and a sweeter, more complex cup profile.
The region is also home to Nyungwe Forest, which is one of the oldest rainforests in Central Africa and home to a rich biodiversity of native flora and fauna. Coffee farmers in the area avoid using synthetic fertilisers or pesticides, instead allowing native honeybees from Nyungwe to pollinate the coffee trees. This interaction between bees and coffee is very beneficial for the propagation of the plant and results in an increased yield (by up to 60%), more uniformity between cherries and a unique, distinctive character in the cup profile.
ABOUT TROPIC COFFEE COMPANY
Tropic Coffee is a family-owned business that was established in 2015, with a focus on supporting local farmers and transparent business practices. Their mission is to provide clients with the highest quality coffees at a fair price while operating with their guiding values and increasing farmers’ incomes.
Before Tropic established its three washing stations – Cyato in Nyamasheke District, Gisanga in Ruhango District and Kabyiniro in Ngororero District – the local farmers had to travel very far to deliver their cherry, at considerable cost. Besides building and operating their washing stations, Tropic supports the local farming communities by offering training and education on best farming practices to enhance quality and yield.
This is our first year purchasing coffee from Tropic Coffee and we are excited to showcase their coffee here in Australia. We have access to this coffee through our dear friend, Sam Muhirwa, of our long time supply partner, Buf Coffee. We have been working with Muhirwa and his mother, Epiphanie, since 2009. Up until 2014, Buf Coffee’s activities have been concentrated in the Southern Province of Rwanda, where Muhirwa’s family business is based. Over the last couple of years, Muhirwa has been fostering new relationships with producers, providing them with advice and helping them to market their coffees.
HOW COFFEE IS PROCESSED BY TROPIC COFFEE
- All of the coffee is carefully hand-picked and delivered to the Cyato washing station. It is sorted for unripe or defective cherries and pulped on the same day using a mechanical pulper.
- The beans (in parchment) are then dry-fermented (in a tank with no added water) overnight for 8–24 hours. They are then sorted again using grading channels; water is sent through the channels and the lighter (i.e. lower grade) beans are washed to the bottom, while the heavier cherries remain at the top of the channel.
- The wet coffee in parchment is then soaked in water for 20-26 hours (the water is changed every 8 hours) before being moved to pre-drying beds where they are intensively sorted for around 6 hours. This step is always done whilst the beans are still damp because the green (unripe) beans are easier to see. It is also always done in the shade to protect the beans from direct sunlight (which they have found helps to keep the parchment intact and therefore protects the beans better).
- The sorted beans are moved onto African beds in the direct sun to dry slowly over 21 days. Whilst drying (in the sheds and in the sun) the coffee is sorted carefully for defects, and turned regularly to ensure the coffee dries evenly. It is also covered in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest.
- Once at 11–12% humidity, the coffee (still in its parchment) is stored in the washing station’s warehouse, in carefully labelled lots, until it is ready for export. The coffee is then sent to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali to be dry-milled under the watchful eye of Sam Muhirwa and his team. Here the parchment is removed, and the beans are sorted again by hand and using machinery to remove any physical defects, and graded according to their screen size.
WHY WE LOVE IT
Historically coffees from Rwanda’s West have been quite difficult to access, despite their incredible potential for exceptional quality. We’re excited with Buf to establish a relationship with Tropical Coffee and looking forward to working together in the future. Coffees from Lake Kivu are known for their excellent character and unique cup profile and we think this lot is an excellent example of this!