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Over the last decades, quality coffee production in Rwanda has advanced substantially. Since being decimated by civil war and strife, coffee has become a major export in Rwanda, where more than three-quarters of its citizens subsist through agriculture. Investment in infrastructure to process coffee and close work with growers has increased production of specialty coffee, work aided by non-profit and government funded programs, some of which was advised by professionals in specialty coffee. Kanzu the Cooperative has had the support of Technoserve, an organization that was also involved in Mutovu and Yukro. It certainly helps that Rwanda’s terrain is very mountainous, with the high elevations, healthy ecosystems and nutrient rich soil beneficial to quality production.
The Kanzu name refers both to the cooperative and the washing station. Kanzu rests in a valley betwixt mountain peaks near the shores of Lake Kivu. Founded in 2006 with the aid of Technoserve, Kanzu brings together the coffee from hundreds of farmers who harvest fruit from trees cultivated on the mountains above and deliver ripe cherry for processing. Old-growth bourbon trees and terroir of the Nyamasheke region provide the backbone for this coffee with powerful character and acidity, while a 24 hour fermentation process adds complexity. After harvest and drying in March-July, this coffee then faces an epically long journey from land-locked Rwanda here to the USA.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Rwanda Kanzu, from Share Coffee Roasters in Hadley, Massachusetts. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: Nyamsheke, Rwanda
farm: Rwanda Kanzu Factory
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Rwanda Kanzu Cooperative
elevation: 1700 – 2150 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Rwanda Kanzu is sweet; mild and subdued, but sweet. Filled scents of brown sugar, caramel, and tropical fruits, this is a really pleasant start to this cupping.
This is a fairly acid-forward coffee; one which features a medium body and a velvety mouthfeel. Even taking my first few sips from the cup, there’s already a tart grapefruit acidity streaming down the center of my tongue. It’s not a sharp or pointed acidity, though—it actually has a soft, roundedness to it; not unlike acidities found in Nordic roasts, actually. In addition to tart grapefruit, I’m also tasting tangy tangerine, pluot, nectarine, and effervescent white grape. Beneath these bright and lively fruit flavors is the subtle sweetness of brown sugar, caramel, nougat, and pie crust.
This coffee was really something else—one that fired on all cylinders. It was sweet and bright, delectable and effervescent. It was a coffee that I eagerly came back to again and again. Delicious, smooth, beautifully rounded with soft, curved edges, a crystalline clarity, and a sparkling effervescence; a coffee that was so clean, and featured a ton of depth.
*content courtesy of Madcap Coffee
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