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Rwandan Red Bourbon arrives at Stamford Coffee!

Our Rwandan Red Bourbon is a real treat, and comes from the backdrop of an incredible coffee evolution in a truly unique part of the world.  

First, there is the coffee itself: nearly 100% heirloom Bourbon, grown in the volcanic soil of Rwanda’s abundant hills.  Elevation across the country ranges from 1,200 to 2,000+ MASL, and rainfall is ideal for coffee cultivation.

The cup profiles in Rwanda are unique and varied, with saturated sweetness and full-bodied mouthfeel, as well as complexity, brilliant acidity, and vibrant fruit. And the fully-washed, centralized processing in Rwanda is meticulous, some of the best of any origin we work in.

But the story of coffee in Rwanda was not always so. When the reshaping of Rwanda’s coffee sector began in 2000, only six years after the utter devastation of the genocide, 90% of Rwanda’s coffee crop was classified as low-quality ‘ordinary’ coffee.’ There were hardly any centralized processing stations in the country and almost no washed coffee was produced at all. The history of coffee cultivation in Rwanda, inextricably linked to colonial policies from the 1930s, included enforced planting of coffee, restricted cherry prices, high taxes on exports, and tight control over who could buy and sell coffee within the country.

After the genocide, the government lifted restrictions on trade and on farmers, and then began a sustained and focused effort to develop a high-quality, specialty coffee market in Rwanda.

In a collaborative effort from NGO's, cooperatives were formed & trained.  The building of hundreds of new washing stations throughout the country were established.  Investment in training and technical assistance for farmers, agronomists, cuppers, and quality control professionals.

These long-term investments across the supply chain in Rwanda dramatically increased the supply of quality coffee in the country. Demand for high-quality Rwandan coffee has increased globally, farmers have access to higher prices for the fruits of their labour, and many skilled jobs have been created throughout the supply chain, from accountants and managers at washing stations, to cuppers, agronomists, quality control personnel, and positions in dry milling and export.

Our Red Bourbon hails from Koakaka,  a co-operative founded in 1999 with 875 coffee farmers, and has since grown to 1,316 cooperative members with 297 women and 1,019 men. Its coffee is grown on the slopes of the Virunga volcanos in the district of Karaba, Rwanda, about two and a half hours from Kigal, the capital.

In 2014, they began to segment their women's coffee and in 2016, Koakaka coffee was recognized by RWASHOSCCO as the best coffee in the country with a score of 90.3. In 2018, Koakaka placed in the Rwanda Cup of Excellence. Koakaka has been a member of the African Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) and the International Women Coffee Alliance (IWCA) since 2016.