We’re really glad to welcome back into our range, for the sixth time, an espresso from Gitesi washing station. The situation at Gitesi is not so usual. 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 organic worm-tea to spray on their trees as fertilizer, which also limits 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 (a type of passionfruit) to fix nitrogen in the soil; Aime Gahizis 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 heavily prune back 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 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). Molasses is added to the water whilst being held in another tank before running through a suspended bag of charcoal and then fine gravel. The final filtration stage occurs when the water passes through a bed of Vetiver reeds, which reintroduces oxygen into the water. The filtration system is very 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.”
Karongi, Western Province, Rwanda
A complex, fruity espresso. Expect to taste black grape, sultana and raspberry as well as core notes of sweet liquorice, baking spices and brown sugar.