Cherry cola, butterscotch, red fruits
Producer: Gisanga CWS
Origin: Ruhango, Rwanda
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Elevation: 1850 masl
This natural processed lot comes from Gisanga coffee washing station and includes an extended 'anaerobic' cherry fermentation up to 96 hours. Gisanga is situated in Ruhango district and processes cherries from 925 local smallholder farmers.
Gisanga is one of the best coffee-growing regions of Rwanda’s central plateau. The region varies from 1,650-1,850m above sea level with volcanic, sandy clay soils and cool temperatures. Like much of Rwanda - “the land of a thousand hills” - the terrain is mountainous, rugged, and exceptionally beautiful. Rich volcanic soils, plentiful sunshine, and tropical rainfall provide exceptional conditions for the cultivation of arabica, and the Bourbon variety particularly excels in the high elevations of Rwanda’s mountains.
The natural process for this lot is augmented to include an extended cherry fermentation in sealed tanks (a low-oxygen environment.) After fermentation for 72 hours, the cherries are dried slowly on raised African beds for 6 weeks.
History of Coffee in Rwanda
The commercialization of coffee came about gradually in Rwanda and coffee was always produced on smallholder farms. Independence brought some improvement to the coffee infrastructure as the government established more modern and centralized processing. But this meant the government set the price they would pay for coffee and farmers had no other options. There was no focus on quality because there was no incentive whatsoever.
Despite much of the coffee being Bourbon, there was no sorting or grading so all the coffee was commercial grade. Rwanda exported 642,000 bags of coffee in 1993 and 447,000 in 1994. Then, as something of a stark reminder of the genocide, Rwanda exported a mere 22,000 bags in 1995. Today, Rwanda exports only 43% of what it did in 1993, but current exports represent much greater value because for the last 20 years the focus has been on quality rather than quantity. Rwanda’s ideal growing conditions are no longer wasted on poor processing. New washing stations have opened in all coffee-growing regions, innovative cupping labs that arrive built into shipping containers, and cooperatives have been established.
For the last 10 years, Rwandan specialty coffees consistently rank among the finest in the world.