Women examining coffee beans, Rwanda

Rwanda

HISTORY

As with many of the African coffee-producing nations, the booming coffee market in Europe gave rise to the introduction of coffee in Rwanda with high-yield, low-cost varieties planted during the 1930s by Belgian colonials. Intended to be a cheap and abundant commodity, the colonial government imposed high taxes on growers.


The Rwandan genocide that occurred in 1994 devastated coffee production despite coffee being the staple agricultural export. Almost 1 million people were killed during this tragedy, stalling development and slowing progress for almost a decade. The Rwandan government instigated a series of targeted programs during the early 2000s encouraging the use of specialty coffee. Despite its small size and low overall production, relative to the rest of the world, Rwandan coffee now enjoys a reputation for quality and unique characteristics.



POTATO DEFECT

One challenge facing producers from this region is the existence of a defect colloquially known as "potato defect", caused by the presence of bacteria in the coffee cherry which, after roasting, imparts a distinct smell and taste remarkably similar to that of a raw potato. The defect is largely contained within individual beans so identification of the defect is vital to maintaining quality. However, the defect is not visible and is virtually undetectable in the parchment or green coffee.

Overview

GROWING REGIONS

Western Province (including Kabrizi, Lake Kivu, and Gishamwana Island), Southern Province (Butare, Nyanza), Northern Province (Rulindo), Eastern Province (Ngoma District)


COMMON VARIETIES

Bourbon, French Mission Bourbon, Caturra, Catuai, Mibirizi


PROCESSING METHODS

Washed


HARVEST PERIOD

March – June