BEHIND THE CUP
Your insatiable curiosity finds you traversing the rugged terrain of Rwanda's northwest highlands, guided by the whispers of a great coffee that beckons you from afar, the kind that wakes you up and says, "Seize the day!".
Finally, you stumble upon a cooperative called Musasa Dukunde Kawa. 'Musasa' means a place to make a bed, and 'Dukunde Kawa' means 'let's love coffee' This refers to the power of coffee to improve the lives of those in rural communities, and it does that in droves.
Musasa has not one, not two, but FOUR washing stations. That's right; they are like the Wu-Tang Clan of coffee. And let me tell you, their third washing station, Nkara, is where the magic happens. It's like the GZA of washing stations - pure genius.
This cooperative has been brewing up a storm in the coffee world because they were part of a program called PEARL. This gem of a program has switched up the whole coffee scene in Rwanda, turning it from a "how much can we make" situation to a "how good can we make it" vibe.
Roughly 459 hardworking smallholder farmers work with tiny plots of land and grow just a few hundred coffee trees to deliver coffee cherries to the Mbilima Washing Station, about 80% of whom are women, and women mostly staff the Washing Station itself.
The cooperative helps farmers buy livestock and access long-term credit without interest; many now have health insurance for the first time. Musasa has also built two schools and contributes 10% of its profits to constructing new washing stations in other areas, helping small farmers pool their resources and kick the middleman to the curb.
Fully ripe cherries are selectively hand-picked and promptly transported to the washing station on the same day of harvest. Upon arrival, the cherries undergo a meticulous hand-sorting process to ensure top-notch quality. The pulping and dry-fermentation occur before high-pressure water washes the coffee cherries. The coffee gets graded further using flotation channels based on weight.
Afterwards, the beans transfer to the drying tables at the washing station and are carefully sorted for defects, regularly turned, and sheltered from rain and midday sun by covers. This process lasts approximately 14 days, depending on weather conditions. The beans are monitored for humidity to achieve uniform drying. Finally, the beans are transported to the cooperative's dry mill in Kigali for final dry-milling and hand-sorting.
If you like the taste of coffee with history and a lot of love, grab a cup and make some Musasa Mbilima because this coffee will leave you wanting one more all day.
A lovely balance of bright and sweet, the rich and velvety tones of Baker's chocolate envelop you, hearkening back to the times of master chocolatiers skillfully creating luxurious confections. This decadence meets with the sweet embrace of buttery caramel.
As the crescendo of flavour rises, harmonising with the chocolate's richness and caramel depth, finishing with a lemon sweetness leaves a lasting mark with lime that lingers long after the final cup.
NOTES FOR GEEKS
Farm: Musasa Mbilima
Cooperative: Musasa Dukunde Kawa Cooperative
Process: Fully Washed
Varietal: Red Bourbon
SCA Score: 86
Elevation: 1900-2200 masl
Washing Station: Nkara
Region: Rubyiniro, Coko Sector, Gakenke District of Northern Province