January 15 2019 – Michael van den Heerik
Kivu noir is of the famed Red Bourbon Arabica variety and is grown in rich volcanic soils at high altitudes over 4,800 ft. above sea level, on the rolling hills around Nkora, along the western shores of Lake Kivu.
Rwanda is known worldwide for its fine coffees – a product of rich soils, high altitudes, plentiful equatorial sunshine, and rainfall – and for how the coffee is carefully processed.
Kivu Noir is grown by dedicated small farmers who are also members of a coffee cooperative. They farm the coffee on small plots of land, typically less than a quarter of a hectare in size. We are supplied coffee directly by about 1,000 such farmers located in the vicinity around our washing station at Nkora (the largest coffee washing station in Rwanda). As the coffee comes from a small distinct area, it is a single estate coffee in addition to being a specialty coffee. On the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) coffee quality scale, our coffee scores 85 to 90, meaning it is amongst the top 1% of coffee in the world.
The ripe coffee cherries are picked by hand mostly by women and then delivered to our washing station at Nkora, where they are purchased by us. 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 red cherries are accepted.
They are then pulped on the same day to remove the outer husk (always in the evening – 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 the quality control and production of our premium quality coffee.