Our March coffee of the Month is a unique coffee from the Kamajumba estate in Rwanda. It is a well balanced coffee with subtle acidity and a nice, round body. It starts with a subtle sweet orange acidity, which is then overtaken by bold bread and smoke notes that pop on the palate. The smoke notes carry through to the finish and meld with molasses and dark chocolate flavors for a long lasting finish. This coffee is bold when freshly brewed and, as it cools, it develops a lovely sweetness through the cup.
Roast Color: Medium-Dark
Cupping Notes: Brioche, Smoked Wood, Molasses
Story: This Rwandan coffee comes from Kamajumba, one of three estates owned and operated by Kivubelt in the Nyamasheke region. Kamajumba is a 22-acre estate planted entirely on a narrow peninsula in Rwanda’s famous Lake Kivu. Kivubelt was established in 2011 by Furaha Umwizey. Umwizey’s goal with Kivubelt is to create a model coffee plantation, as sustainable in agriculture as it is impactful in local employment and empowerment. Under Umwizey’s leadership, Kivubelt has planted 90,000 coffee trees on their estates, which now employ more than 400 people during harvest months and is a kind of coffee vocational school for local smallholders interested in improving their farming.
Rwanda’s coffee crops roared to international buyer attention in the late 2000’s thanks to one of East Africa’s most successful coffee interventions, the Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda Through Linkages (PEARL). PEARL was a sweeping infrastructure and education investment targeting large regions of Rwanda whose coffee was for the most part processed poorly at home and exported with little traceability. The program, designed and led by the University of Michigan, Texas A&M and a host of Rwandan organizations, vastly increased processing hygiene by building washing stations. It also organized remote and under-resourced smallholders into cooperative businesses capable of specialty partnerships.
This coffee-of-the month selection introduced me to a great representation of the bourbon variety of arabica bean. I mostly made stovetop espresso's with the beans, (though did use the Aeropress once or twice) much to my satisfaction. The coffee's aroma is terrific, and the taste was a combo of citrus/sweet, floral, and chocolate. Something about it was also unfamiliar which I attributed to the varietal. Not off-putting, just didn't fully give the well rounded kind of espresso I prefer. I would order it again if it comes around next year.