Last July we spent a productive week travelling with Samuel Muhirwa of Buf Coffee in Rwanda, and as with the past few trips, we’ve got to know the coffees from the farms Jarama, Nyaruzina and Kamajumba a little better. Owned and operated by Kivu Belt Group based in Western Rwanda, Sam helps market them through Buf.
The Kivu Belt Group is run by a Rwandan lady, Umwizeye Furaha, with investment and help from a Swiss company. When we first purchased Furaha’s coffee, it was only sold as Kivu Belt Group and was a lot made up of combined coffees from the different farms but as investment grew the individual farms were able to be kept separate.
It is unusual for Rwandan coffee to be grown on large farms; more typically smallholder farmers harvest their coffee cherries and sell them to a coffee washing station in their local area. By overseeing the growing, harvesting and processing of the coffee, Mrs Furaha can maintain control and implement more stringent quality control at every stage. Since our first purchase, we have taken lots sold by the separate farms, for instance, ‘Morundo’ last year came from the Nyaruzina farm before processing at their newly purchased washing station, Morundo.
This year their lot separation has moved to new levels whereby we have been able to select a lot of coffee grown on Kamajumba, a peninsula farm that juts out into Lake Kivu, harvested on the 3rd May 2017. The first time we tasted this particular lot, it expressed a wonderfully sweet and perfumed character with real elegance. The coffee trees on Kamajumba are still quite young, at only six years old, and are growing at around 1,550 metres above sea level. Creating a coffee that isn't the most complex and concentrated flavour profile that we’ve tasted in Rwandan coffees grown at higher altitudes, instead, it's incredibly balanced and delicate, with a more integrated and restrained acidity. Again, the harvested coffee cherries are processed at Morundo washing station.
On 1st July, 2017, after cupping lots of samples from the Kivu Belt Group, we drove out to the farms to get a feel for where these beautiful coffees were produced. Meeting with Casper, who oversees the farms, he explained how they demand only ripe cherry be harvested by pickers during peak harvesting months. This is the cornerstone of quality coffee production, and the result is there to taste in the cup.