OUR FAVOURITE (DON'T TELL THE OTHERS).
Musasa Co-Operative, Rwanda
Is it wrong to have favourites? With brew like this one, it’s hard not to. This coffee is mighty – not the biggest or the strongest but a canvass-shuddering knockout.
The red bourbon Arabica beans of the Rushashi district have the benefit of a unique climate and altitude, creating an amazing clarity and vivid flavour. It’s lemony but creamy, sweet yet savoury. Put it this way, it’s a surly mule’s total bliss.
Washed process. High altitude, red bourbon from one of Rwanda’s best producer groups.
Complex grapefruit acidity, caramel & molasses sweetness, floral, black tea aroma. Tea-like and savory on the aroma and first sip as a lot of top quality coffees from the region are, the Musasa quickly takes on a complex range of sweet and acidic flavors, grapefruit and lime in the forefront, but none too overpowering. The caramel and molasses flavors leave a refined sweet and lasting finish.
The Musasa Dukundekawa Cooperative lies high in Rwanda’s rugged north-west, at around 1,800 metres. This was the third washing station built by the co-op in 2007, with profits made from their other two washing stations and a loan from the bank. The newest, Nkara has been operational since 2007.
Musasa Dukundekawa Cooperative owns three washing stations and is one of Rwanda’s larger cooperatives, with 2,100 members in the 2012/13 crop year. In addition, Nkara buys and processes cherries from around a further 50 non-member farmers in the area. So the numbers (and paperwork) involved are staggering!
Most of these small scale producers own less than a quarter of a hectare of land, where they cultivate an average of only 250 – 300 coffee trees each as well as other subsistence food crops such as maize and beans. The Musasa Dukundekawa Cooperative gives these small farmers the chance to combine their harvests and process cherries centrally.
Before the proliferation of washing stations such as those owned by the Musasa Dukundekawa Cooperative, the norm in Rwanda was for small farmers to sell semi-processed cherries on to a middleman – and the market was dominated by a single exporter. This commodity-focused system – coupled with declining world prices in the 1990s – brought severe hardship to farmers, some of whom abandoned coffee entirely.
Today, it’s a different picture. Farmers who work with Musasa Dukundekawa Cooperative have seen their income at least double, and the co-op produces some outstanding lots for the specialty market year after year. ‘Dukundekawa’ means ‘lets love coffee’ in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda’s official language) – in reference to the power of coffee to improve the lives of those in rural communities.
This coffee that we have bought from Musasa Dukundekawa is produced by the Nkara & Ruli washing stations.