Rwanda: Rwinyoni - Natural Bourbon - Rubavu
In the cup: Round and sweet, with notes of plum and some surprisingly floral notes. A pleasant lingering aftertaste of apple cider.
Cupping Score: 88
Mouthfeel: Round, creamy.
Variety: Bourbon / Jackson
Producer: Rwinyoni Washing Station / Local Smallholders
Altitude: 1500 meters above sea level
Region: Rubavu (Lake Kivu / Western Province)
Rwinyoni washing station sits on the shore of Lake Kivu at 1,500 meters above sea level. The station, built in 2012, placed at the Cup of Excellence during its first year of operation. When you see the dedication and care that everyone at Rwinyoni station gives to selecting and processing only ripe, red cherry, it’s easy to see how they accomplished such a feat. Rwinyoni station continues to focus on high quality coffee production to this day.
The farmers who deliver their cherry to Rwinyoni are flush with options of nearby washing station. Rwinyoni has very high-quality standards, but in order to be competitive, they must accept nearly all cherry delivered. If they do not, the farmer will choose to go to a different station next time in order to sell more of their crop and avoid the hassle of sorting.
After purchasing cherry from producers, Rwinyoni sends the cherry through a strict sorting process. First, washing station staff remove any lower quality cherry through flotation. Then, a specially trained staff visually inspects the remaining cherry for any visual defects.
After sorting, cherry is pulped on a Pinhalese pulper outfitted with a demucilager that removes up to 80% of the mucilage before fermentation. Parchment is then fermented for 10 hours before being laid out to sun dry on raised beds. While drying, the coffee will be regularly sorted to remove imperfections and sifted to ensure even drying.
German missionaries and settlers brought coffee to Rwanda in the early 1900s. Largescale coffee production was established during the 1930 & 1940s by the Belgian colonial government. Coffee production continued after the Belgian colonists left. By 1970, coffee had become the single largest export in Rwanda and accounted for 70% of total export revenue. Coffee was considered so valuable that, beginning in 1973, it was illegal to tear coffee trees out of the ground.
Between 1989 and 1993, the breakdown of the International Coffee Agreement (ICA) caused the global price to plummet. The Rwandan government and economy took a hard hit from low global coffee prices. The 1994 genocide and its aftermath led to a complete collapse of coffee exports and vital USD revenue, but the incredible resilience of the Rwandan people is evident in the way the economy and stability have recovered since then.
Modern Rwanda is considered one of the most stable countries in the region. Since 2003, its economy has grown by 7-8% per year and coffee production has played a key role in this economic growth. Coffee has also played a role in Rwanda's significant advancements towards gender equality. New initiatives that cater to women and focus on helping them equip themselves with the tools and knowledge for farming have been changing the way women view themselves and interact with the world around them.
Today, smallholders propel the industry in Rwanda forward. The country doesn’t have any large estates. Most coffee is grown by the 400,000+ smallholders, who own less than a quarter of a hectare. The majority of Rwanda’s coffee production is Arabica. Bourbon variety plants comprise 95% of all coffee trees cultivated in Rwanda.