Rwanda – Gitwe honey

 16.15 96.88

Country: Rwanda
Region: Karambi, Western Province
Altitude: 1760 m.a.s.l.
Variety: Red Bourbon
Processing: honey
Taste profile: oolong tea, green apple, elderflower lemonade

The Gitwe processing station sits atop a mountain valley at an altitude of nearly 2000 meters above sea level. You’ll reach it along a path lined with beautiful towering coffee and tropical fruit trees. Despite its size of less than 1 hectare, it’s the smallest station in the Western Province, yet it produces the finest coffees in Rwanda.

We’ve selected a coffee processed using the honey method, resulting in a pleasantly tea-like cup with notes of elderflower.


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PRODUCER

The Gitwe processing station was recently built in 2016 and is now owned by the Rwanda Trading Company (RTC). It employs six full-time staff and 50 seasonal workers, with 90% of them being women. Only specialty coffee is processed at the station; all farmers have undergone RTC’s training program. Their farms range from 150 to 600 coffee trees, with most located just 2-3 km from the station. Many of the farmers, who are elderly, face challenges in delivering the coffee cherries to the station on their own. To address this, RTC assists by establishing 15 collection points near the farms, facilitating easier access for the farmers.

The station manager, Augustin, originally from Kigali (the capital of Rwanda), decided to leave the city for the mountain air and rural environment due to health issues. Since 2018, he has been living near the Gitwe station and reportedly hasn’t felt unwell.

PROCESSING

The Honey method combines elements of both dry and washed processing. The ripe coffee cherries are first stripped of their outer skin during honey processing. A portion of the mucilage remains on the beans during drying, resembling honey, hence the name “honey processed.” The beans are then dried on beds or patios, during which they can absorb sugars and flavors from the mucilage. The result is coffee with a highly complex flavor and characteristic sweetness, often with fruity and floral notes and a syrupy body. In Rwanda, honey-processed coffees have gained popularity in recent years, with many farmers adopting this processing method to differentiate their coffees and achieve higher prices in the market.

VARIETY

Red Bourbon is one of the most well-known and beloved coffee varieties, renowned for its exceptional quality and flavor. Originating from the island of Bourbon (now Réunion), this variety was introduced to various parts of the world, including Rwanda, in the 19th century. The coffee cherries of Red Bourbon typically exhibit an intense red color, which is one of the reasons why this variety is named “red.” Characterized by its delicate and balanced taste, Red Bourbon offers notes of chocolate, fruity undertones, and a sweet caramel finish.


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