What's in the hopper? Rwanda Gisuma

This coffee is a headlining act in our Winter Espresso.

The Gisuma washing station is located in the Rusizzi district in western province. This co-operative has 155 members who grow their coffee at an altitude of 1,705 to 1,850 metres above sea level. Red Bourbon, washed and sun dried on raised African beds.

ALTITUDE – 1,705 to 1,850 masl

LOCATION – Western province, close to Lake Kivu

PREPARATION – Fully washed and sun dried on raised African drying beds

VARIETY –  Red Bourbon

OWNERS – Various Co-operative members

CERTIFICATION – Not certified but supported by TechnoServe and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

CUP OF EXCELLENCE: Placed third in 2013 Rwanda Cup of Excellence competition

In Rwanda coffee has brought hope for a better future since the 1994 Civil War and genocide shook the world. It would be wrong to consider Rwanda in terms of their tragedies, as not only is it a culturally rich and beautiful nation, it is now rightly heralded as a top producer of specialty coffee.

Coffee was introduced to Rwanda in 1903 by German missionaries. As a cash crop it received government backing, but the focus was very much on quantity rather than quality. However, the impact of the world coffee crisis in the late 1990s, when prices fell for several years below the cost of production, caused many Rwandan coffee farmers to re-think their position. Working hand–in-hand with the Rwandan Coffee Board (OCIR Café), international NGOs such as USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other coffee-focused organisations, a speciality coffee sector was created in the early 2000s.

Rwanda is blessed with ideal coffee growing conditions that include high altitude, regular rainfall, volcanic soils with good organic structure and an abundance of Bourbon. The vast majority of Rwandan coffee is produced by smallholders, of which there are thought to be around half a million with parcels of land often not much larger than just one hectare per family. Coffee is grown in most parts of the country, with particularly large concentrations along Lake Kivu and in the southern province.

Rwandan smallholders organise themselves into co-operatives and share the services of centralised wet-mills –or washing stations as they are known locally. Flowering takes place between September and October and the harvest runs from March to July with shipments starting in late May early June. Gisuma have been supported by the NGO Technoserve, whose mission is to empower people in the developing world to build businesses that break the cycle of poverty. In coffee this is achieved by improving the quantity and quality of coffee they produce through training in sustainable agricultural practices.

This coffee brings out the sweetness of the Winter Espresso, providing balance, a rounded body and a soft mild acidity.


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