July 18 2018 – Michael van den Heerik
The ripe coffee cherries are picked from the trees by hand, mostly by women and then delivered to our washing station at Nkora. This is usually done in baskets carried on their heads and occasionally on bicycles.
At the washing station, the cherries are carefully sorted by hand to make sure that only the red cherries are accepted. They are then pulped on the same day to remove the outer husk (always in the evening with using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades). After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight (for around 12 hours), then graded using flotation channels that sort the coffee by weight (heaviest – or A1 – is regarded as the best). The beans are then soaked for a further 24 hours, before being moved to raised screens for 'wet-sorting' by hand. This final task, always carried out by women, is of significant importance to quality control and production of our premium quality coffee.
The coffee beans are then dried on raised beds systematically for a period of up to 15 days. This ensures the removal of surface moisture and any water lingering between the parchment and the bean. The parchment is then moved onto beds in the sun, where they are repeatedly turned and sorted ensuring even drying and the removal of any less-than-perfect beans. When the coffee reaches 12% moisture, it is stored in parchment in carefully labeled lots. The coffee is then sent to be dry milled at our station in Kigali.
A1 grade beans are individually hand sorted, again by women, through sight and feel after dry milling to remove any imperfect beans.
The perfect A1 beans are then roasted by our expert roasters. They tend to the beans as they tumble, swell, and change color from sage to straw to chestnut brown. They then pull them from the hot drum at just the right time, ensuring that the beans are roasted to absolute perfection. It is through this meticulous craft of roasting, tasting, and adjusting, that we develop the rich and unique flavor of Kivu noir.
The final roasted coffee has tasting notes of an exceptionally delicate coffee packed with hints of sweet orange and cocoa, with a subtle cherry-lime finish; with rounded complexity that makes for a beautifully smooth coffee.
We own five washing stations throughout Rwanda. Namely Nkora – which is the largest washing station in Rwanda – Cyebumba, Shangi, Buliza and Kigeme.
Since we own all of these estates, we have full control of quality at every stage of the supply chain – an attention to detail that has paid off several times in Rwanda’s Cup of Excellence competitions.