Coffees from Rwanda have long been a favourite at Carvetii and this year we’ve really enjoyed two great coffees from the Musasa Dukunde Kawa cooperative located in the rugged northwest of the country. While one of these coffees found its way onto our espresso blend, the other is available as a single origin coffee, suitable for filter, cafetiere and Aeropress brewing.
Nkara is the name given to the cooperative’s third mill. Built in 2007 using profits from the other two mills and a bank loan, Nkara sits at 1,800m and serves farmers within the Ruli Sector of Rwanda’s Northern Province.
What to expect in the cup
Rwandan coffees appeal to us because of the wonderful fruitiness you experience in the cup. Brewed to the right strength you can expect this coffee to have a wonderful juicy character with just the right balance of acidity and sweetness. Our discussions at the Roastery resulted in the following description:
Expect an initial black grape acidity followed by flavours of juicy plums. This coffee has a lingering fruity sweetness and a coating mouthfeel.
Back at the Washing Station1
This coffee is the collective effort of some 2,100 farmers each with only around 1/4 hectare available to grow coffee. The Nkara washing station buys coffee cherries from these farmers, all of whom produce the same varietal of coffee, Red Bourbon2. The cherries are hand picked only when they are fully ripe and are pulped3 the same evening. The beans are then fermented for around 12 hours, a process which removes the mucilage, or flesh, of the fruit.
At this stage the coffee beans are surrounded my a hard layer called ‘parchment’, and they will be wet following the above process. The ‘parchment’ as the beans are now called, is graded using floatation channels which sort the coffee by weight (with the heaviest regarded as the best). The wet parchment then soaked in water for between 18 and 24 hours to stabilise moisture content.
Washed beans are then moved from the wet fermentation tanks onto pre-drying tables, where they are intensively sorted under shade for around six hours. The idea is that greens (unripes) are still visible when the beans are damp, while the roofs over the tables protect the beans from the direct sunlight. Next, the beans are moved onto the washing station’s extensive drying tables for around 14 days (depending on the weather), where they are sorted again for defects, turned regularly and protected from rain and the midday sun by covers, ensuring both even drying and the removal of any damaged or ‘funny looking’ beans. After reaching 11% humidity, the coffee is then stored as parchment in Nkara’s purpose-built warehouse.
The final stage of processing occurs at the dry mill and involves the removal of the hard parchment layer. Only now are the coffee beans finally revealed.
You can purchase this coffee from our online store.
- The term Washing Station is used in Rwanda to describe the mill which processes the coffee (removes the coffee bean from the coffee cherry). ↩
- Bourbon is a natural mutation of Typica which occurred on the island of Réunion(at the time called Bourbon). It is believed to have a distinctive sweetness which is prized in the speciality industry. Red, yellow and orange variations are available. ↩
- Pulping: removing the skin from the coffee fruit ↩