Running a functioning co-op is never easy, as a lot of us well-meaning folks can attest.
The Gihombo Washing Station fell on hard times recently, and was actually shuttered for the 2012 season. The Abaryoshyakawa co-op, which built the station in 2005 with help from USAID, couldn’t keep the mill at its full potential, and its members paid the price. Or more appropriately, they didn’t receive the prices they deserved.
Justin Musabiymana stepped in last year to lease the washing station from the co-op, and revitalized its operations. Now co-op members can deliver their coffee with the confidence that it will be properly milled, and retain its high quality all the way to the cupping table. This tiny mill’s small capacity (20,000 kgs of parchment per year doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of global coffee) makes it essential that these farmers receive high prices for their limited output.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Rwanda Musabiymana, from FourBarrel Coffee in San Francisco, California. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Gihombo, Western Province, Rwanda
farm: Gihombo Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers (Justin Musabyimana)
association: Abaryoshyakawa Cooperative
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Rwanda Musabiymana is clean and sweet and delightfully pungent, as my nostrils are filled with berries, flowers, and sweet, sweet honey.
Taking my first few sips of the coffee immediately post-brew, my palate is greeted by sweet, juicy red and black fruits (red currant, raisin, black cherry, cranberry) and maple syrup.
As the coffee cools, it gets considerably brighter and a little tart. A honeyed texture and flavor carries with it sparkling notes of plum, green grapes, kiwi, strawberry, pear, blackberry, a tart green apple acidity, and a pistachio and pine needle finish that lingers long after each sip.
Medium body; syrupy mouthfeel; malic acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
I’ve had some really incredible coffees from Rwanda this year, and the Rwanda Musabiymana, from FourBarrel Coffee, only furthers the evidence to my “2014 will be the year of the stellar Rwandan coffee” claim.
This was a dynamic coffee that absolutely sparkled on the palate, with some really beautiful flavors of berries, tropical fruit, a syrupy sweetness, and a malic acidity that rounds out the bottom of the cup.
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