We’re really glad to welcome back into our range, for the seventh time, an espresso from Gitesi. As well as buying and processing coffee cherries grown by the smallholder farmers in the surrounding hillsides, the Gahizis family also tend to their own small farm. They have a wormery which they use to make an organic fertiliser spray, which also helps to limit the spread of leaf rust. Every year they are buying more land and planting more coffee, having reached 20,000 trees this year. Their mature trees produce an average of 5kg fruit per year. Cows kept at the station provide milk and fertiliser for their own trees, and through Aime’s social work they have donated 60 cows to farmers in the local area in the last three years, as well as spray pumps for fertiliser. They also donate seedlings from their nursery of over 10,000 plants to neighbouring farmers and run workshops to teach them about tending to other food crops as well as coffee.
The water used for the washed processing is from a natural spring. After being used for processing the coffee it becomes full of particulates and enzymes, needing to be filtered before being reintroduced into the local water table. At Gitesi they collect water from the washing channels as well as run off from the mounds of coffee pulp (which breaks down to provide more compost for their trees) and first hold it in a tank. The mucilage settles and is separated off to be added to organic fertiliser whilst the water passes through lime and EM (effective microorganisms). Subsequent stages use molasses, holding tanks, charcoal and fine gravel to filter the water before it finally passes through a bed of vetiver reeds, re-oxygenating it. This filtration system is highly advanced and is held up as an exemplary model for other washing stations to work towards.
Aime sees the work at Gitesi as much more than simple crop husbandry and coffee production, doing amazing work within the neighbouring community. We asked him for a message that we could pass along to the people drinking coffee from Gitesi and he replied with the following, that we haven’t the heart to shorten:
“The Gitesi Sector is the land of our grandfathers, it’s where even my father was born. But as you know, because of Rwandan history we grew up outside our country, and we came back in 1994 after the genocide and liberation war. Upon our return we have found in our land no one among our family members, all of them were killed in the genocide. We are now living and working with those who killed (or their children) our relatives. What motivates us is the reconciliation between the survivors of genocide of those who participated in genocide in our sector, now we are working together at the washing station, sharing everything in peace. Our plan is to continue changing the lives of our people at Gitesi both socially and economically.”
Kristyna, our Quality Assurance Supervisor, took her first trip to origin with us in 2019, and bonded with Aime over his passion and enthusiasm for coffee and his community, but in particular over his obsession with bees and the amazing work they do for coffee quality. We brought back some amazing coffee flower honey from Aime to bake into spiced cakes and share with the team in Vyner Street.
Karongi District, Western Province, Rwanda
A sweet, tangy cup, reminding us of dried fruits & tamarind, is also layered & aromatic, like brown butter & cherry tobacco.