A balanced and graceful cup with restrained acidity, sweet citrus, rose, tea-like flavors, floral brightness, medium body with dense mouthfeel, dried orange peel, cinnamon bark, clove, allspice. City+ to Full City.
This lot is from a cooperative washing station (a wet mill for coffee processing) in the region of Gikongoro, Nyarusiza, near Butare. It's part of the greater Bufcafe (Bufcoffee) coop ... however you put it, a clumsy name, But coops aren't about fancy romantic names, and Bufcafe had several top spots in the first-ever Rwanda Cup of Excellence this past year. Their coffees were consistently excellent, and I remember them well because I was there as a judge! And just to see the director of Bufcafe, a shy petite lady they call Epiphane, thunder down the aisle to claim the awards at the podium, it was worth the airfare to Africa! She is a force. This area, in southwestern Rwanda not far from Burundi, has some of the best coffee farming areas, featuring older types of the traditional Bourbon varietal. With a range of 1300 to 1600 meters, this lot of high grown Bourbon has a compact physical density that performs well in a variety of roast conditions, air roast or drum roast. The coffee is wet processed and dried immediately on raised beds in the African style, which promotes even, rapid drying (more-so than patio drying in many cases) because the air flows around the wet parchment coffee from above and below. It's ideal for this climate, and allows the coffee to be culled while it dries to remove defects. This is a classic Rwanda cup. The dry fragrance has a balanced sweetness, sweet bread and cinnamon, with spice tea dark aromas. Wet aromatics have rose-like floral notes, and caramelized cane sugar sweetness. This cup has lots of sweet mulling spices to it; dried orange peel, cinnamon bark, clove, allspice. There is sweet citrus in the lighter roasts, lemon oil, a bittersweet tea finish. It's very balanced; bittersweet roasty coffee flavors in proportion to fruit and aromatic grace notes. The body is not heavy, and yet it has a creamy texture to it, and there is a buttery quality that lingers into the finish. All of this adds up to a character much more restrained than a bright, flashy Kenya coffee, that has enough depth to discover new flavors with each brewing. Rose floral notes emerge as the cup cools. Keep tasting it, and you will find more to like in this lot... at least that is my experience. Contrary to other East Africa coffees, I think the Rwanda benefits from a little more roast, City+ to Full City, because my lightest City roast samples had a slight grainy note and astringency in the finish.