Gitesi is one of my favorite sites in Rwanda. Not only is it located in a beautiful valley, but the washing station looked clean, well-organized, and the leaders seemed motivated and competent. I had already cupped quite a few day lots (wet-process batches from coffee cherry received in a single day), and I knew the coffee was really good. The Gitesi site is at 1740 meters, actually one of the lower areas surrounded by high ridges ranging up to 2000 meters, where coffee is grown. 1,830 coffee farmers in the area supply Gitesi with cherries each year. The station fosters a relationship with the farmers by paying an additional dividend at the end of each season based on performance. Gitesi was started in 2005 and has been building capacity each year. Like much of Rwanda, the coffee is Bourbon variety. We "built" this lot by looking at all their day lot batches and combining the best ones. Early lots from Gitesi were not cupping consistently good, so we excluded those. But we found some excellent process batches from the middle harvest. And we're not the only ones noticing: Gitesi won COE a couple years back and continues to produce competition level coffees.
Gitesi continues to produce some of the best coffee we see from the region, and this year's lot is of significant quality. Right from the get-go, Gitesi has such an attractive set of aromatics, perfumed with clover honey and all-spice, subtle wildflower smells accenting light roast. Aspects of complex sugar browning come into full view when you add the hot water, with a rich sweetness of caramel candies and vanilla hanging heavy in the air and with a spiced note of "Clove" chewing gum released on the break. City+ roasts are intensely sweet, raw cane juice providing the backdrop, moving into a flavor of orange blossom honey. Citrus notes pop out on top as the cup cools, a flavor of black tea with lemon comes to mind, as well as a candied peel note. Acidity too is lemon-like, not with a tart edge, but more like lightly spritzed lemon water. City and City+ roasts have notes of ginger chew candies, and with the honeyed sweetness, offers an impression of ginger snap cookies. Dark roasts are very sweet too and have bittersweetness like fine cocoa powder, with chocolate/cacao roast tones. Gitesi changes quite a bit from light to dark roasts, and the sweetness is potent all the way to the outer edge of Full City (but for the most complex cup, don't stray far from City+/Full City). The finish is very clean, with notes of peach and chocolate syrup filling out the aftertaste. Gitesi brews so well, with the quality of a competition-winning coffee.