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Rwanda, known as the country of thousand hills and million smiles, has deserved its title. I was indeed once again overwhelmed by the Rwandese warm welcome and beautiful landscape. Seeing our friends again and meeting great new partners was worth every lost luggage and long hours of travel.

This year’s crop in Rwanda is characterised by its early start and unusual length. Good rains and gentle temperatures led to an extensive flowering period, that occurred in different time lapses from region to region. This allows producers to better manage their time, while focusing on quality. Hence, despite a 30% lower volume, this year’s coffee will excel with its outstanding fruity and lively cup profile.

This trip provided us with many new and deeper insights: better knowledge about the different coffee regions in terms of cup profiles, people, history and a strengthened view on Rwanda’s coffee chain. Furthermore, as traceability & sustainability are our main focuses, we put a lot of effort into gathering valuable information regarding working conditions, payments and perks to farmers and workers, cost of production, needs and future projects. All those data will feed and drive our future decisions, which will be led towards and by people.

During this short trip, I have had the chance to not only visit eight washing stations from five different producers but also to attend an extensive cupping in Kigali with lots coming from all those amazing and highly diverse places. It was great to travel with Wellars from Muhondo Washing Station and to watch him concentrate on new cherry arrivals while preparing for this year’s Cup of Excellence. With Emmanual from Baho Coffee, I was honoured to be the first to discover his new experiments and fermentation techniques. All his processing secrets will be well kept with us, but we might share some insights with you. Ernest from Impexcor, as one of the most respected producers by farmers and coffee people, produces wonderful specialty coffees for both Arabica and Robusta, while taking care of the communities around. Finally, we discovered a charming washing station at the shore of lake Kivu called Gitesi. In every corner you could see many little projects flourishing. In fact, besides producing great lots, Aimé encourages and trains its famers with intercropping during off seasons, which provides them with food and additional liquidity.

Stay tuned for samples, which will be available from May/June onwards.

Best wishes,  Philippa

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