When we first bought Gitesi’s coffee it was from their 2014 harvest. Last year we helped support a scheme to supply their smallhold farmers with cows by purchasing some of their production to roast as a limited coffee release. Unfortunately we couldn’t use everything that we wanted to from their 2015 harvest as the green coffee underwent accelerated staling during transit. In 2016 our Head of Production and Head of Quality both visited Rwanda with our friend Jo from Nordic Approach, and got to see first hand the work that goes on at Gitesi under Aime Gahizi’s watchful eye.
When we first cupped Gitesi’s coffee samples in June we were tentative about taking a large volume, but tasting the coffee again and again as it began to open up (fresh green coffee needs to rest a little, just like roasted coffee, to be fully appreciated) we became much more excited by the flavours in the cup. Remembering how great the coffee had been before, and having thought hard about just how much potential there is for Gitesi’s coffee quality to rise higher each harvest given their attitude and approach we agreed that this is a partnership we intend to maintain for years to come.
The situation at Gitesi is slightly unusual in that as well as buying and processing cherry grown by the smallhold farmers in the surrounding hillsides, the Gahizis tend to their own small farm. They have a small wormery which they use to make organic worm tea to spray on their trees as fertiliser and to limit the spread of leaf rust. Every year they are buying more land and planting more coffee, with their mature trees producing an average of 5kg fruit per year. The cows at the station provide milk and also fertiliser for their own trees. They plant Maracuja (granadilla) to fix nitrogen in the soil, and Aime claims this helps the aroma in the coffee, as well as planting bananas around the periphery of the farm for extra income from another crop. Lots of dry plant matter is kept around the base of the trees to keep water in the topsoil. After 10 years of production they stump the coffee trees to increase their production during the following year’s harvest.
Seeds are saved from the trees that perform the best for their nursery, which is made up of 10,000 seedlings. Each year they will plant between 1,000 and 2,000 on their own farm, and the others are gifted for free to neighbouring farmers to support their own livelihoods.
The water used for processing is from an underground source, and what looked to be a leaky pipe during our visit was intentionally left flowing as they do not wish to close off and trap the natural spring as the water will stagnate. Water used for processing coffee is full of particulates and enzymes, needing filtration treatment 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 seperated off to be added to organic fertiliser, and then the water passes through lime and EM (effective microorganisms). Molasses is added to the water and it is held in another tank before running through a suspended bag of charcoal, through gravel and then into a final holding tank. The final filtration stage occurs when the water passes through a bed of Vetiver reeds, which reintroduces oxygen into the water.
It makes us really happy to share with you the hard work that goes on at Gitesi with this latest espresso release. Enjoy!