On certain afternoons we were able to explore our environs, much of which is prime coffee country. The town of Butare is over 5,000 feet in elevation with the hills around us rising well over 6,000 ft.
Yoshimo Ito about to get on his coffee bike. Just a short while ago coffee farmers transported their coffee cherry with sacks on their backs, often over large distances. Then in 2006 Duane Sorenson of Stumptown came up with the idea of providing specially built bikes to facilitate their efforts. More can be read by clicking: http://www.bikestorwanda.com/index.php?page_id=11
His coffee trees are unshaded, as is the case everywhere in Rwanda that I could see. Studies are being made to see if shade would be of benefit. On the other hand, the soil is mulched, a very laborious process that few people still practice outside Rwanda, but which protects the soil and roots of the coffee tree.
Next we encountered Alphonsine (I was not able to get her last name), 54 years old. She had lost her husband during the genocide and is now remarried with two children. She has 220 trees and works pert time sorting green coffee beans on parchment tables (these are racks on which the wet beans are placed to dry for approximately a week).
This is the Ba kawa Kabuye washing station, the only one I visited in south Rwanda. Coincidentally, it would be their coffee which we picked out blind during cupping at our Acton facilities a month later and which we purchased through the Cup of Excellence auction (we hope to have it before Christmas 2008). Click here for more information and photos: http://rwandacafe.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=256&Itemid=197
then click the southernmost dot on map (the full link just does not seem to work!).
The blue tanks are fermentation tanks. The freshly depulped coffee seeds are placed in one of the upper tanks to ferment overnight, then washed the next day in the concrete channels, then placed in water (second set of tanks below the channels) where they fermented for another 24 hours. At this point turbulence will wash away all fruit clinging to the seeds (beans) and they will be reay for drying.