Rwanda Migongo Washing Station Kirehe 2018


Bean name Rwanda Migongo Washing Station Kirehe 2018
Country #SSSSS Limited Editions 2018
Region Kirehe
Other info Varietal: Bourbon


Number 4 of 12, April 2018, in the #SSSSS 2018 - Steve's Super Secret Stash Subscription. A limited availability series of roasted coffee beans.

This month it's: #SSSSS No4 – Rwanda Migongo Washing Station Kirehe 2018

Welcome to April’s #SSSSS!!! Time flies and so are we – from last month’s Bolivian we’re heading across the Pacific to Africa, and to the Kirehe province in the east of Rwanda.

Before we get to the mill, let me tell you a little bit about Rwandan coffee. Nearly all the Arabica grown in Rwanda is traditional Bourbon stock, but in the 20th century it didn’t have a great reputation for quality. The 1990s were very difficult for Rwanda, most significantly the genocide of 1994. In the years that followed, the country got some foreign aid to try and improve the economy, with the United States funding construction of lots of Washing Stations to improve coffee production. This certainly improved the quality of coffee produced, although so many were built that some still remain empty.

The good news is that we started to see some really good lots coming out of Rwanda and some pioneering speciality coffee roasters became big supporters and buyers from there - the reputation now is much better!

There are still some significant challenges – for speciality, the dreaded Potato Defect is a big one. This well known defect in a bean is entirely hidden until the roasting and brewing process (so you can’t screen for it), nor are we certain how it is caused. It can potentially effect all lots from Rwanda and it’s neighbor Burundi (it’s often just a couple of beans in the millions that make up a single lot!), causing a distinct smell of raw potato when grinding the defective bean. This unpredictable risk has meant Rwandan coffees have rarely been used in coffee competitions, as well as leading to instant dismissal from the Cup of Excellence program there – I saw some of the most delicious Rwandan lots I’ve ever tasted thrown out because of it at their first Cup of Excellence competition. If you ever happen to be unlucky enough to find one of these, don’t worry – just throw that individual dose of coffee away and grind some more, it will have been from just 1 single bean in the bag.

Back to Kirehe! The Washing Station for this coffee is called Migongo – sound familiar? It’s one we’ve bought great coffees from in the past. There are 700 farmers who deliver their freshly picked cherries to the Washing Station. Once there, the cherries are given a first sort (to remove obviously bad ones), then soaked in an open water tanks to remove the fruit. They get rinsed and soaked in clean water for another 24 hours before they go out to dry on raised beds. This usually takes around 20 days, during which time workers will turn the coffee and sort it to pick out any damaged beans or any which are underripe.

In the cup, this is clean and crisp. It starts with a big hit of lime zest and white sugar, before finishing on bitter grapefruit. It’s complex but also beautifully well balanced and refreshing.

Country: Rwanda
Region: Kirehe
Wet Mill: Migongo Washing Station
Altitude: 1,500 m.a.s.l.
Varietal: Bourbon
Processing system: Fully Washed

Stephen Leighton

Cupping notes

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