Morundo, produced by the Kivu Belt Group whom we purchased a few coffees from last year, originates in the West of Rwanda, in the Nyamasheke district at the edge of Lake Kivu, where Umwizeye Furaha is the lady who owns the three farms that make up KBG. Her Jarama farm is located just off a brand new, extremely twisty road built by the Chinese along the edge of the lake that we became overly familiar with during our visit as we moved North and South along the Kivu shoreline. Kamajumba is strange enough in being a peninsula farm that juts out into the lake, but Nyaruzina is something totally bizarre; a coffee farm on a small island. It’s a strange feeling stepping out of a boat onto land and seeing growing trees, but then the lake itself lies around 1,550m above sea level so it does make sense.
The largest lake in Rwanda, Kivu forms a beautiful natural border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of only a handful of lakes in Africa that doesn’t contain hippos and crocodiles at all, high subsurface methane levels caused by volcanic activity in the area are responsible for the lake’s rather impoverished fauna and also keeps away the two largest and most dangerous water based animals on the continent. With a tally of only 30 fish species, including 16 endemics, diversity is far lower than the other large Rift Valley lakes, possibly as a result of mass extinctions triggered by the release of methane trapped in the lake’s depths every few thousand years. Now, with help from foreign investment, a large-scale gas-to-power plant has opened that draws up water on an offshore barge, siphons off the methane, and pipes it to a power plant on shore where it generates power for one of the world’s most under-electrified regions. The previously unwanted resource has suddenly become very valuable to the people around Lake Kivu.
Last year we had coffee from Kamajumba and a second mixed lot, Kivu Belt #120, running both as espresso. The quality of coffees from Nyaruzina this year however made us confident we could achieve great results with a filter release. The clarity of flavour and distinct fruit notes are a testament to the control and care that Umwizeye’s operation is able to achieve. Everything from the choice of fertilisers added to the soil, the timing and techniques employed to prune the coffee trees and what counts as acceptable ripeness when hand harvesting cherries are tightly controlled.
A quick search on the satellite version of Google Maps for “Ile Mutaba” shows Nyaruzina, very nicely groomed with well spaced coffee trees and right at the centre of the island a small structure with a terracotta roof. This cool, open-walled building at the highest point, is where a day’s pickings are set out onto tarps by workers, sorted by hand to remove any insect damaged and under or overripe cherries, before being bagged up and carried down the steep incline to the wooden jetty, ready to be taken by boat to the mainland for processing at Morundo washing station. Up until last year Umwizeye was only renting the use of the station, but has now purchased it to process cherry from all three farms she owns.
Finally, to avoid the infinitely confusing situation of having coffees from Nyarusiza and Nyaruzina in our range, we decided to name this coffee after the washing station, therefore we hope you enjoy Morundo.
Sweet mandarin and white grape flavours complement honeyed notes in this gentle, balanced cup. A clean finish is reminiscent of jasmine tea.