Blueberry, Apple and marzipan. Suited to all brewing methods.
Malcolm Clear and Jacqueline Turner founded the charity ‘A New Beginning’ in Rwanda in 2008. They formed an export company R&B Import/Export partnering with 633 coffee farmers under guidance from the local goverment 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.
2019 was the the first year for the production of naturals allowing for a little research first to ensure the output is of the quality we have come to expect from the owners Jacquie and Malcolm. Coffee is picked and brought to the Kinini washing station where it is separated from the other lots to be processed. The cherry must be delivered by 4pm on the day of picking and infrastructure has been built in order to make this easier. As the washing station grows, raised beds have expanded allowing the cherry to be spread out and dried for 48 days at a depth of two inches, turning regularly to avoid over fermentation and allow even drying throughout the crop. Each raised bed comes with its own marker to ensure microlot traceability and yellow tarpaulin for quick covering in case of rain. For this lot, Kinini have separated the peaberries to create a new microlot of the sweetest cherries with their natural process.
Weather has proven changeable and inconsistent over recent years. Coupled with high to extremely high altitudes, this has led to a widening of the cropping period from late March or April (starting on the lower altitudes) right through to December for the highest plots. These cherries were picked towards the end of the harvest period.
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.
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.
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.
Peaberry's - what's all the fuss about ?
A peaberry (also called caracol, or "snail" in Spanish) is a natural mutation of the seed inside its cherry. Normally seeds develop two to a fruit, flat against each other like halves of a peanut, except in about 5% of the world's coffee where a seed is born an only child
Some consider Peaberry grades superior to normal grades from the same crop, on the basis that, in Peaberries, all the flavour compounds that ordinarily goes into a double bean goes into only one bean. Typically, the Peaberry is more buoyant and more brightly acidic, more complex in the upper aromatic ranges of the profile but somewhat lighter in body, than normally shaped beans. Others say not.
Because there's no way to tell from looking at the cherry itself whether there's a single or double-header inside, these little guys need to be hand-sorted after picking and processing in order to be sold separately. As a result, in many cases the peaberries are sold for alongside their normal counterparts. Occasionally, growers will hand-select the tiny mutants for special sale, sometimes at a premium, not only because of their taste, but also because of the amount of labor involved, as well as their relative rarity.