Dispatches: Rwanda

Our sourcing trips are all special, in various and truly unique ways. Some are remarkably difficult, but rewarding. Some are complicated and frustrating, but leave us with the true sense that our work is valuable and worthwhile as we cup a coffee that blows us away. Our most recent visit to Rwanda, which we’ve just returned from this week, was an absolute dream, an origin trip for the ages.

These days, a lot of our trips are a mix of visiting with producers we’ve worked with for years. We check in with them, see how we can best support their efforts, see how their kids are growing up, etc. We’ll make some time for adventures, and will set aside a good portion to seek out new producers in areas we’ve not ventured yet. But this trip to Rwanda was almost all exploration. It felt fresh, new.

Kigali & Kageyo Station

We flew into Kigali, the capital city and home to more than one million people. We met with some friends from a coffee exporter and cupped some coffees from some cooperatives they thought we might be most interested in visiting with. A few of the coffees immediately stood out, and felt like what we were looking for in the Rwandan coffees we wanted to bring onto our menus, so we decided on a route that would lead us to as many of the cooperatives in the short time we had, while still giving us time to take in some sights and visit with our friends at Kageyo Station, whose coffees we’d been so happy with this last year.

Lake Kiva, Rwanda

Rwanda is roughly the size of Maryland, bordered on the west by Lake Kivu, a stunning, often tranquil and picturesque body of water.  We spent the night above one of the Lake’s gorgeous little alcoves, and watched thunderheads builld up across the lake as the sun set. In the dark the lightning illuminated the cloud’s depth—a truly stunning, eerily calm, but violently beautiful thing to watch. We shared some beers and stared, speechless.

The Highlands & Mwasa Station

Over the next couple days we made our way through the highlands, eventually arriving at Mwasa Station, whose more exemplary coffees had just blown us away in Kigali. This cooperative processes coffees from more than 100,000 beautiful coffee plants, picked by more than 500 individuals in the area. The station is immaculate, and they do a remarkably thoughtful job wet milling. We can’t wait to get their coffees state-side, for you to enjoy.

rwanda_mwasaWe returned to Kigali in time to do some sightseeing. In our experience, Rwandans are some of the most kind and welcoming people, and the country seems dead set on changing outsider’s perspectives of the country, considering the true tragedies that befell the country during the 90s. The Rwandan government has made huge efforts of making Kigali especially desirable to visitors, including the development of a manmade lake in the city’s center, which will eventually be surrounded by new businesses as well as world-class accommodations. We left excited to be heading home, but knowing we’d be back very soon…

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