Producer: Various small lot holders from Kilimbi sector
Altitude: 1550 - 1800 MASL
Varietal: Red Bourbon
Process: Full Natural
Drying: Dried on raised beds between 35 and 45 days
Harvest: Drying completed in April and May 2016
In February this year our export partners built two new coffee washing stations (CWS) in the south west Nyamasheke region of Rwanda. In 2015 the introduction of new zoning laws by the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) provided an opportunity for our partners to build two new washing stations in an area of Nyamasheke where there were limited purchasing points for coffee growers. The foundation of our relationship is based on our fixed price payment approach. Our partners agreed to work with us with our fixed price model and together we have adapted it to suit the market in Rwanda. The value chain in Rwanda is different to that of Colombia. In Colombia producers are responsible for production quality right up to dry parchment at which point they sell it to buyers or exporters, producers in Rwanda and greater East Africa, however, generally sell harvested cherry to a central washing station who then manage the remaining processing variables. Rwandan coffee growers generally own a very small portion of land of about .5ha. Aside from coffee, they also grow maize, plantain and other vegetables that are either consumed or sold into the local market for additional income. What makes our partners a great fit for us is we share similar social values. They gifted 2ha of land for the local communities around their washing stations to grow additional food crops, and gifted ten cattle to provide milk to the local communities. During the construction of Kilimbi, power was bought into the area at the cost of partners, and was run to the surrounding area for the community to draw from. Kilimbi Coffee Washing Station is built on the shores of Lake Kivu and purchases coffee from about 150 families in the area. Coffee is processed here is grown between 1550 and 1800 MASL and employs 8 full time employees. They’re paid $8 USD per day, compared to the national average wage of $2-3 USD. During peak season, Kilimbi employs up to 60 casual staff, who are paid 1000 RWF (Rwandan Franc) per day, this is standard for casual agricultural workers in Rwanda and our partners are reviewing this figure for next season. This season, producers were paid an average of 202 RWF per kilo of cherry delivered to, on to of this, Raw Material paid an additional 50 RWF per kilo, a total average of 252 RWF per kilo. The average price of cherry paid by other washing stations in the area was 175 RWF and the national market price was 150 RWF, meaning we paid 30% more than the local price and 40% more than the national market price for cherry. This year was an extra special year for our partners and ourselves. Together, we sought the first official legal permission to produce honey processed coffee for export. NAEB hold strict rules around the production of washed coffee for export, and for good reason. Natural processing production, in particular, is a problem in some rural communities. Some farmers will pick and dry their coffee in the sun as a full natural and sell it into the black market. In this case, coffee can be sold for much lower prices than if it were otherwise sold to a washing station, and this is a problem that can trap farmers in a cycle of perpetual poverty. With this in mind, our Honey and Natural processed coffee’s were produced under special permission of NAEB with in a preset of conditions. Only the most optimally ripe cherry has been selected for production of this natural processed coffee. With the help of a quality manager producers physically check each lot for any physical defects, under-ripes and for any foreign objects, cherry is then floated to remove any floaters. This process is repeated several times. Coffee is laid out on raised African beds 1.8m x 20m long. 250-300kg of cherry, as opposed to 500kg of parchment, is placed on each bed, this is to ensure the coffee ferments evenly and allows fluid air movement across all the cherry during the drying phase. The coffee is constantly turned throughout the day and at the same time hand sorting is carried out to remove any new defects. The drying process takes between 35 and 45 days, on particularly humid nights, coffee is left uncovered to avoid over exposure to moisture, otherwise it is covered in the evenings and in any instances of rain. Once it reaches 12.5% moisture the cherry is removed from the drying beds and stored until it is milled, once milled, the coffee goes through one post milling final hand sorting stage to remove any further defects.