Seasonal Espresso Blend
It’s become a bit of a tradition at Carvetii to use an African component or two in our espresso blend. We really enjoy the bright, fruitier notes these coffees bring to the cup. African coffees have been missing from the last two versions of our blend so we’re really pleased to have Musasa Dukunde Kawa as a component in this offering.
Rwandan coffees are from favourites at Carvetii and we’ve used coffee from Dukunde Kawa in previous years, though this is the first time as a blend. We’ve paired this coffee up with Consaca, a coffee from the Nariño region of Colombia. Both coffees have been produced by smallholding farmers and both are grown at high elevations of around 2,000m.
From Musasa Dukunde Kawa you can expect flavours of blueberry and vanilla with a coating mouthfeel. The Consaca brings hints of milk chocolate, stone fruit and vanilla with a creamy mouthfeel.
The Musasa Dukunde Kawa cooperative has three washing stations lying high in Rwanda’s rugged northwest. Ruli – the cooperative’s first washing station - was built by the co-op in 2003 with a development loan from the Rwandan government and the support of the USAID-financed PEARL project. Constructed at a vertiginous 1,999 metres above sea level, it is one of Rwanda’s highest washing stations.
The level of care that Musasa Dukunde Kawa Ruli takes over the processing is impressive. Cherries are hand-picked only when fully ripe and then pulped that same evening using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades by weight. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight (for around 12 hours) and then graded again using flotation channels that sort the coffee by weight (the heaviest – or A1 – usually being the best). The wet parchment is then soaked in water for between 18 and 24 hours to stabilise moisture content.
As at most washing stations in Rwanda, women do the majority of the hand sorting. This takes place in two stages - on the covered pre-drying tables and on the drying tables. Washed beans are moved from the wet fermentation tanks onto the pre-drying tables, where they are intensively sorted under shade for around six hours. The idea is that greens (unripes) are still visible when the beans are damp, while the roofs over the tables protect the beans from the direct sunlight. Next, the beans are moved onto the washing station’s extensive drying tables for around 14 days (depending on the weather), where they are sorted again for defects, turned regularly and protected from rain and the midday sun by covers, ensuring both even drying and the removal of any damaged or ‘funny looking’ beans.
After reaching 11% humidity, the coffee is then stored in parchment in Ruli’s purpose-built warehouse prior to final dry-milling and hand-sorting at the Cooperative’s brand new dry mill in Kigali. Each coffee that arrives is also cupped by Musasa’s team of expert cuppers along with the Q-graders of their exporting partner, Rwashocco. Lots are usually separated out by days. Upon delivery as cherry, the coffee receives a paper ‘ticket’ that follows the lot through all its processing. This ticket bears the date of harvest and the grade (A1, A2 etc) of the coffee – for instance, if a coffee lot is called ‘Lot 1- 06/04 - A1’, this means it was the first lot processed on April 4 and the grade is A1. This simple but effective practice is a crucial tool in controlling quality and ensuring the traceability of lots.
The town of Consaca, around which this lot was grown, is located on the Western skirts of the Galeras volcano. Around 500 hectares are planted with coffee in Consaca, with someareas reaching up to 2,300 metres in altitude. The predominant varieties planted are Caturra and Castillo, with most farmers diversifying between 2 or 3 varieties on their farm.
Producers in this region are overwhelmingly small-holders, who manage their own self-sufficient wet-mills and patios (open or covered) for drying. Every family does their own harvesting - usually with the help of neighbours. After the red and ripe cherries are picked, they are pulped by passing them through a manual pulper at the family farm (usually located close to the main house). The waste from this process will be used later as a natural fertilizer for the coffee trees. Depending on the conditions fermentation can range between 12 up to 48 hours. Some producers will add several layers of wet parchment over the course of a few days, which is thought to add complexity to the fermentation process and final cup profile. Luckily, Nariño is blessed with some of the best drying conditions in the country due to the micro-climate and high altitude of the region, providing lower relative humidity, more wind and more sunny days than other areas of the country.