Our latest arrivals in the roastery are a pair of Rwandan's from the Kinini washing station. This is the washed AA coffee (screen size 16+) and is from the Cocatu cooperative of 260 coffee farmers located in the high mountains of Tumba. The cooperative is now expanding with more than thirty thousand new coffee seedlings this year. They have adopted worm compositing techniques for fertiliser production.
The Kinini station was funded and built by a charity ‘A New Beginning’ back in 2008 formed by Malcolm Clear and Jacqueline Turner. They formed an export company R&B Import/Export partnering with 633 coffee farmers under guidance from the local government in 2012 and together their reputation for quality across the 252 hectares has grown steadily since. The growing lands are in the Rusiga and Mbogo Sectors, Rulindo District, Northern Province.
A New Beginning was set up to help a group of widows and orphans displaced during the genocide in 1994, who were subsequently resettled in an area of uncultivated savannah. The charity set up a school and a health post which has fully trained staff and is self-sufficient.
The partnership between the farmers and Kinini (R&B) is based on a 30 year renewable lease for the use of the 252 hectares for coffee growing, fully backed, approved and endorsed by the Local Government. The land has been given a ‘restriction’ by the Rwandan Land Office, so the farmer has given his land as security to R&B for the term of the 30 year lease (like a loan or mortgage). Through this arrangement both the farmer and R&B have the security that they will carry on producing and selling coffee for at least 30 years.
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.
Coffee is picked and brought to the Kinini washing station (newly built in May, 2016) where it is separated from the other lots to be treated, then depulped using a four disc McKinnon pulper and fermented from between 5 to 20 hours, depending on the decision of the quality manager monitoring the fermentation. The coffee is then sun dried for an average of 15 days, depending on the intensity of the sun.
Coffee varieties at Kinini
In 2012, 38 of the 252 hectares were planted with Bourbon Mayaguez 139 seedlings, 2,000-2,500 in each hectare. This totalled nearly half a million new trees, and access to nurseries and supply of new trees continues. The cultivar itself most likely originated from the island of Reunion (The same place as where the original Bourbon mutation was first noted), together with Jackson that is also widely found in Rwanda, another Bourbon mutation. The third commonly found cultivar, Bourbon Mayaguez 71, could have come from Ethiopia, introduced via the Congo. Though there are now some new varietals being introduced to the country through such programs as World Coffee Research, the country still has Bourbon as the main cultivar.