In July of 2016 we travelled in Rwanda, revisiting the producers whose coffee we’ve been buying for up to five years. Every time we go there is something new to see, a new project or a new obstacle to overcome. We’re really pleased to be able to continue to support the work of Buf Coffee and Kivu Belt Group who are producing really delicious coffees, and of course we are excited to share the results with you in the way of this new Rwandan filter release.
Last year we were releasing coffees from Sam and his mother Epiphanie’s company, Buf Coffee, under names that reflected the small villages or hillsides where the coffee had been grown. They own both the Remera and Nyarusiza washing stations, but the cherry they are processing comes from lots of different collection points. Miko and Gataba were the two that we bought last year. The processing by Buf is so meticulous and transparent that we wanted to highlight the terroir angle of the coffees with our naming of the coffees. This year, the lot that stood out to us from Buf was a mixture of cherry from two collection points, Kamegiri and Gasumba, that had been processed at the Nyarusiza washing station in the Gikongoro district of Nyamagabe. Rather than continue the trend of naming the coffee as we did last year, we are simply calling it ‘Nyarusiza’ (the double-barrelled Kamegiri & Gasumba is quite a mouthful!).
We’re pleased that Buf’s operations haven’t been too affected by the new zoning laws that Rwanda’s agricultural export board (NAEB) have just introduced. Previously there could have been a handful of potential wet mills for a coffee farmer to sell their fruit to. This can generate healthy competition as the washing stations will have to pay more for ripe fruit to incentivise the growers to bring them the best product to create higher cup scoring lots. A scheme put in place for the rice industry has been adopted for coffee too, wherein you are only allowed to buy and sell within designated zones, ruling out the option of sending trucks to collection points too far away, in another washing station’s zone, to buy coffee cherries. Kamegiri and Gasumba still fall within the boundaries of the Nyarusiza station’s permitted trading zone, but a lot of good washing stations are feeling the impact of reduced access to coffee, and their turnouts were vastly lower than average (it is important to look at average production rather than simply the previous year; everyone’s production is lower than last year which was a bumper crop).
We were particularly impressed with the flavour in those coffees picked later in the season. Those harvested in May seemed riper and with more balance and structure than the earlier pickings in April. The way that Buf separate out the lots by picking dates and collection points enables us to cherry-pick (pardon the pun) the coffees with that extra layer of complexity or intrigue to them. Buf pay a premium to the growers for delivering good cherry and the extra care and attention is evident in all their turnouts, and this is a shining example of how clean and sweet coffees from Rwanda can be.
Gikongoro, Nyamagabe, Rwanda
A juicy and layered cup balances bright notes of plums, ginger and cooked stone fruits with warming aromas of cloves, cardamom and melted butter.