Black cherry and lime with a creamy milk chocolate finish.
Rugali is in the Nyamasheke region in the west of the country bordering Lake Kivu and DR Congo. Up until 2016 it was illegal to process anything other than washed coffees anywhere in Rwanda. Muraho Trading Company who manage Rugali were the first company to be granted approval to produce natural and honey processed coffees. The production of natural processed coffee is monitored strictly by National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), and the elevation of Rugali lends itself to producing exceptional naturals.
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. Approximately 1150 farmers sell cherry to the Rugali CWS.
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. 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.