Producer: Vunga Cooperative
Region: Nyabihu District, Western Province
Elevation: 1650-2000 masl
Variety: Red Bournbon
Process: Washed

CUPPING NOTES: Aromatics of rose, honeysuckle and milk chocolate hover above dynamic flavors of green apple, black cherry, cola, malted chocolate. Very balanced, complex.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in the global coffee industry is the potential for socio-economic impact, which is often a byproduct of sustainable sourcing practices and direct trade business. Few cases would be more exemplary than in Rwanda. In 1994, genocide swept through the country, leaving 800,000 dead in its wake. By the mid 2000’s, amidst the throes of recovery, quality-focused coffee production began to trickle throughout its fertile landscapes, eventually becoming a tide that has lifted the economy. Our newest 03 is a collaboration between two emergent organizations that were started during this revolution: The Vunga Cooperative, established in 2008, and the Muraho Trading Company, established in 2009.

Nestled in Nyabihu District, Western Province, the Vunga Co-op is made up of 260 farmers who reside and work in the surrounding hillsides. These farms perch at elevations between 1650 and 2000 masl, and are very small - averaging less than one hectare, or around 1.75 acres - and grow 100% Red Bourbon cultivar. Prior to the formation of this co-op, the quality was very low. Farmers would process their harvests in the traditional natural method, allowing the fruit to dry on the seed after picking. The resulting cup quality suffered, lacking clarity of flavors, oftentimes presenting over fermented or defective attributes, and the coffee was sold for very little.

When the Vunga mill, boasting a Penagos eco-pulper, began operations in 2008 - everything changed. A Penagos allows the millers to carefully control the amount of pulp (coffee fruit) and mucilage (a sticky layer under the pulp coating the coffee seed/bean,) removed from the seed, making it easy to manage many processing variables and minimize water use. Vunga utlizes a 6 hour dry-ferment followed by an extraordinary 35 day drying period on raised drying beds. This approach stimulated a fresh, quality focus to all aspects of coffee production that improved the value of coffee, increasing the economic take-away its members. This lot is then built with quality-focused separations of all the members’ agriculture combined, providing an additional layer of accountability for all members. A rising tide lifts all boats.

These upgrades were further supported by the work of Muraho Trading Company (MTC), which was founded around the same time as the coop. MTC works directly with these producers, providing training initiatives, seedlings, and farming supplies, all aimed at improving the flavor profile of the coffee and subsequently the quality of their lives. The quality here shines.

The flavor experience is initiated with complex aromatics: sweet, floral notes of honeysuckle and rose layer atop milk chocolate. The accompanying flavors dance gingerly between green apple, black cherry, caramel, cola and malted chocolate. The flavor landscape is incredibly diverse, lending to multiple brew methods and extraction yields.

By purchasing this coffee, we are happy to contribute to this economic up-cycle and provide a window into the complex flavor profile of this beautifully prepped Rwandan Bourbon. One final note: despite the beautiful consideration and prep that goes into producing this coffee, Rwanda suffers from a native defect simply referred to as “Potato defect,” named after a very distinct, peeled-potato like aroma and flavor. Potato defect is nearly impossible to detect until the roasted coffee is ground. When preparing this coffee, if you happen upon this distinct potato-like aroma, best practice is to discard the coffee that has been ground, purge the grinder, and try again (and please, let us know!)

The ability to detect this defect has improved greatly over the past decade, linked to specialty coffee roasters commitment to Rwanda and its agriculture. Despite this reality, we continue to choose to invest in Rwanda and ask you to do the same.

Net Weight 340g / 12oz

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