All of us in the shop are big fans of Rwandan Coffees. Until now, we could not find a Rwandan that we wanted to showcase to our customers. This all changed in a recent cupping session we held with our staff. On this table, we found a few beautiful coffee which we want to stock and will be stocking soon. One of these coffees, is the Simbi! As always, we’ve done our homework on the coffee and we have a great story to tell you about this Washing Station.
Simbi Washing Station was established in 2013 by Abdul Rudahunga. The washing station or wet mill only processes coffee using the wet or washed processing method, which Abdul feels reflects the terroir of the coffee better than other processing methods. Abdul has deep roots in coffee. His grandmother was a coffee farmer who also roasted her own coffee. She was one of the few rural Rwandans who drank coffee as part of her daily routine.
The washing station is located at 1800 metres above sea level and they work with 1850 small holder farmers from the surrounding area. Recently, Simbi started to take coffees from other regions. The coffee we have was grown in Shanga in the Maraba Sector of the Northern Province, which is near Lake Ruhundo. Shanga is approximately three hours away from the washing station.
Abdul focuses hugely on producing high quality coffees and he has done so from the very beginning. The year he opened, Abdul entered his coffee into the Rwandan Cup of Excellence (COE). That year, he placed 9th overall which is a huge achievement. Two years later, he entered the COE again and the coffee placed 7th overall.
In the washing station, the cherries are pulped, then wet fermented and sorted by density using mountain spring water. Then the beans are dried under cover for 24 hours and naturally sun dried on raised beds for around 15 days. The coffees are then hand sorted by 85 employees during the processing season, 80% of his employees are women!
Coffee Production in Rwanda
Coffee has been growing in Rwanda since the early 20th century, when German missionaries brought a natural mutation of the Bourbon varietal to the country. Coffee cultivation gradually spread across Rwanda and by the 1930’s, coffee became a compulsory crop for producers when Belgium ruled the country. By the 1990’s, coffee was Rwandas most valuable export, until the tragic genocide in 1994 which claimed one million lives. Coffee became a symbol of hope for Rwandans, as foreign aid focused on the coffee sector to help rebuild the nation. The first washing station was built in 2004, and since then Rwanda has gone on produce some of the highest quality coffees in the world and it is one of only two African countries to hold the Cup of Excellence.
We’re extremely excited to share our very first Rwandan coffee with you. Simbi is a complex yet well rounded coffee with orange like acidity, and notes of spices, black tea and cherries. It’s available in store and online now!