Cherry, chocolate and lime. Sweet and syrupy with a medium acidity.
Bumbogo coffee washing station (CWS) is located in the Gakenke District, Northern region of Rwanda and the region is a world-renowned area when it comes to producing top specialty coffee from Rwanda. Numerous stations have placed in the Rwanda Cup of Excellence over the years from this district. Bumbogo is the newest CWS in the Gakenke District and is only an hour’s drive away from the capital city Kigali. Cherry is delivered to the CWS by 523 smallholder farmers.
Bumbogo’s growth has been phenomenal since it started in 2017 and the CWS has more than doubled its production from the first year by building an extra 106 new African drying beds, bringing the grand total to 203. More so, through close partnership with the likes of our import partner Raw Material they have provided agricultural education and seedlings to their family of Bumbogo Farmers, generating higher yields and incomes. They have also supplied roof sheeting to the Bumbogo communities in order for them to build safer structured roofs to withstand heavy rain falls.
This lot is naturally processed (dried in the skin) and has those sweet, winey and heavy characters associated with well processed naturals from this region. These cherries were initially dried on raised beds for 10 days followed by a few days shade drying before an additional 35 days in the sun.
Beer and banana wine
Bumbogo is managed by Muraho Trading Company who partner with Raw Material for export into Europe. They have a really nice practice with their coffee production for all their CWS's. Farmers will drop off their daily pickings and will have the weights marked down in a register. This register will summarise all of the coffee they deliver throughout the season and will track the expenses owed at the end of the season. Muraho Trading Co found after their first season when they paid cash on delivery, that farmers would spend their cash on beer or banana wine and rarely would that money go back to their families. That obviously wasn't sustainable, so they offered the farmers a different deal. Instead of cash up front - which Muraho offers the highest price per kilo in the country by the way - they have provided year round health insurance for the family of the farmers, and now pay for the cherry at the end of the season in a lump sum during the 'end of year celebration'. At this celebration, they also pay premium bonuses to the farmers who constantly deliver quality cherries. We were told that the farmers weren't thrilled with this deal at first, but now they're huge fans and overall more farmers are coming to deliver cherries to these stations! Amazing. How's that for community impact and sustainable practices.
Coffee Growing in Rwanda
Typically in Africa, one station will buy coffee cherries from many small-holder farmers. The farmers grow other cash crops as well to subsidise their incomes throughout the year. Farmers deliver their cherry to a central washing station and get paid based on weight. Hundreds of individual farmers often contribute to a single station’s yearly production.
These coffees skip the pulping, fermenting and washing stages of the washed coffees and go straight on to the tables. The sun dries the cherry around the bean like a raisin and the cherry ferments around the beans inside. This procedure takes on average 40 – 45 days. After being fully dried they get milled to remove the remaining dried skin. Typically naturals have lots of funky fruity flavours and high sweetness.
These long drying times are a huge factor in how these coffees age once they are sold and transported as green. The slow decrease in the moisture content of the coffee as it dries plays a major role in making sure these coffees retain their vibrant character. That and the consistent climates are absolutely essential for producing specialty grade coffees.
Coffee is turned every hour during the day. All the while, casual workers consistently hand sort cherry as it dries removing damaged cherry or discoloured pods. Once dry, the pods have a raisin like textured skin, are dark brown, almost black, and have a shiny gloss coating.
A little about Red Bourbon
A more productive variety than its parent Typica, the Bourbon variety is part of the reason Brazil became one of the world's coffee superproducers in the 1860s, when it was introduced to make up for the supply loss caused by a leaf-rust outbreak in Java. Slightly sweeter with a sort of caramel quality, Bourbon coffees also have a nice, crisp acidity, but can present different flavours depending on where they're planted. El Salvador Bourbons are all butter, toffee, and fresh pastry; Rwandan types tend to have a punchier fruit quality. Bourbon itself has gone through multiple mutations and variations since its spread: Subvarieties include plants whose cherry ripens to red, yellow, or orange; a dwarf mutation called Caturra; and an El Salvadorian type called Pacas, among many others.