Photos from East Africa coffee travels
Thompson returned from a long trip to Rwandan coffee was, at one time, rarely seen in the United States as either a Specialty grade or low-end commercial coffee. There simply was not that much coffee produced in Rwanda that went anywhere besides More and Burundi coffee bears resemblance to neighboring Rwanda, in both cup character, but also the culture surrounding coffee. Burundi is a small landlocked country at the crossroads of East and Central Africa, straddling the crest of More. Here’s a few Instagrams he posted during his travels.
Folks in rural Rwanda are just so amazing. Here in Rulindo district, on a small steep dirt road to the station we buy from, the community is improving the road. It would be a job for a bulldozer and grader in the US, but here it’s done with shovels and hoes, and about 200 people from the local community. You can sense how they are building more than a road here, as young and old work together. It’s this amazing bond you see in Rwanda where everyone volunteers. (Ok this was paid by local government, but still). Plus that #gapgirl attitude. Love it.
Every so often you get to stay some place your really, really don’t want to leave. Kibuye Rwanda on lake kivu is one of them And I’m pretty sure that every year when I stay here I post (nearly) the same photo and write nearly the same thing… #Kibuye #Rwanda #wishitwasalwayslikethis ayslikethis
Spotted coffee? The first time I have ever seen hail damage on parchment coffee. That must be some tiny hail! But they say there was an episode early in the season and the impact on the high altitude coffees near the Nyungwe Forest here in Rwanda took this form later on. I’m always learning… #Rwanda #nyungwe #dalmationsofcoffee
I’m always learning… On the left are 3 coffee cherries that have been drilled into by CBB, the coffee berry borer aka broca. On the right are 4 cherries affected by Antestia, and as you might be able to see they do not have holes, but rather surface scars. That’s because the Antestia insect doesn’t enter the fruit, drill into the bean, or lay eggs in the coffee as CBB does. It just sucks the sap and goes on its way. Both are coffee pests and both harm coffee quality and lower the volumes. And possibly they both allow the fungal byproduct that produces potato taste a berth in the coffee bean her in Rwanda and regionally. (Consider that Kenya has Antestia and yet no potato defect and it’s clear the relationship is not causal with the pest).
At Mbemba coffee washing station in Burundi, a little allegorical drawing posted on the office door. Coops we support in Burundi are really suffering despite strong leadership and the work of the farmer members. Much of the problem is competition from nearby private washing stations who send their collectors to the hills near the station. They pay a decent price for coffee cherry, and thy pay cash. But the farmers who sell to collectors don’t get any of the coop benefits or second payments. They also don’t get to build something in their community, something they own. The problem is national, with the poor decisions in monetary policy that make the black market in cash a much better option. But also multi nationals who have deep pockets to finance cherry buying during the harvest. I am talking about ways we can use our long term buying relationships with these coops to give them access to more prefinancing going forward. I know, posts like this aren’t so attractive as posting about terroir or cultivars but all that coffee quality stuff we care about doesn’t matter much if farmers can’t get paid promptly and fairly for their coffee!
Sunday meeting with the farmers at Rubanda, #Burundi. It’s a steep, long hike to the washing station and we couldn’t make it down last year. With the incline plus a little rain, it’s a nearly impossible footpath. But the weather has been dry this season so I finally made it. Gérard spoke to the farmers in Kirundi language while I stood there rather uselessly. Nonetheless, visits like this are really important, especially a station that has never had a buyer arrive at their doorstep until today. They do care where their coffee goes, that the work is important to us, that the quality of the coffee is recognized. For me, it hits home how much the better price they get affects so many families directly. #coffeewashingstation #coffeewetmill #coffeefarmers
Thermal video images I was making a couple days ago of drying beds at Murambe Burundi. The point is to check daytime temperatures and see how the thickness of the coffee on the beds affects drying conditions. It demonstrates how turning the coffee in the beds is important to distribute heat, plus, it just looks cool. #thermalimaging #coffeeprocessing #burundi
This is going to rank as one of my favorite paintings from my last trip. Thankfully the computer banner business hasn’t taken hold in Burundi, and hand painted signage is still ubiquitous. And a token of love in a country with rather tragic politics at the moment. #signage #loveandflowers #burundi #bugarama