Rwanda Lake Kivu
Tasting Notes: Sugar Cane, Citrus, Floral
Region: Gishamwana, Lake Kivu
Farm: Gishamwana Washing Station
Importer: Cafe Imports
Rwandan coffee is not without a tumultuous history. Similar to most African coffee-producing countries, Rwanda was first planted with coffee by colonial interests from Europe. At the time coffee was simply a low-quality, cheap commodity meant for export back to the European countries. The colonial government of the time imposed taxes so high on growers that they were practically enslaved to the industry.
Despite low market prices, coffee became a lead agricultural export for Rwanda during the 1990's. However, its production, the economy, and the country as a whole were devastated by the genocide in 1994. With nearly 1 million people killed during the national tragedy, economic progress and development were stalled for nearly a decade.
In the early 2000s the Rwandan government initiated targeted recovery programs that encouraged farmers to begin growing specialty-grade coffee as a way to create a new niche agricultural market and drive economic growth. The country was the first to host a Cup of Excellence auction bringing it international recognition as a producer of exceptional quality coffee.
Located just a short boat ride form the shores of Lake Kivu, Gishamwana Island, "often mistaken for a mirage," is a paradise of coffee growing. Due to its isolation it has resisted many of the pests, insects, and diseases that can harm coffee crops on the mainland. The island farm is owned by Emmanuel Rwakagara, founder of COOPAC, an organization committed to regenerating coffee growing around Lake Kivu. The organization began with 110 coffee producers in 2001 and has grown to over 8000 members currently. The island has 35,000 coffee trees grown organically and amongst forestry that provides a level of shade much greater than most African coffees. With all of the processing and milling taking place there as well the coffee from Gishamwana is something special. Presenting sweet flavors of sugar cane and citrus, this Rwandan coffee is a delightful way to bring in spring.