Atkinsons - Rwanda
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600 farmers around the Kinini washing station in the Rulindo region of Rwanda
1800 - 2450 masl
Notes of Cola, Cherry and Lemon
In 2008 Malcom Clear and Jaqueline Turner set up the charity ‘A New Beginning’ to help individuals, mainly widows and orphans of the 1994 genocide, who were displaced to an uncultivated area of savannah in the Rulindo district. After setting up a school and a health centre they then founded the Kinini Washing Station and started growing coffee in 2012, partnering with 633 local farmers, each with an average plot of about 0.5 hectares.
Although many of these farmers had previous agricultural experience, growing cash crops was new to most of them, never mind a complex crop like speciality coffee. However, with the on-going support and education of the Kinini washing station the group are producing extremely high quality coffee. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that coffee plants usually take 3-4 years to produce harvestable fruit, this means we are only tasting one of their very first harvests!
This is achieved by investment and a strong connection with the many individuals in this area. As well as the school and health centre, a road has been built for farmers to get their cherries to the processing plant quickly which improves cup quality significantly. The washing station is located next to a stream, providing fresh water for drinking but also for processing the coffee which aids clean flavour. There is an onsite cupping lab with sample roasters where the farmers can taste the difference between a good crop or bad crop, they also have 3 full time agronomists which work all year round with the producers educating them on best practices.
The very high altitude of this region, at 1800 - 2450 meters above sea level, puts stress on the plant as the air is thinner, this increases the maturation period and sugar content of the fruit, adding sweetness and complexity. The variety, Bourbon, is one that often finds its way into our roastery, Bourbon 139 is a sub-strain that does well in this area and has a medium yield but high quality cup. Once ripe cherries are hand-picked and quickly delivered to the washing station they are then de-pulped with modern, water efficient machines, fermented for between 5 - 20 hours and then sun dried for about 15 days depending on the intensity of the sun.