Founded by the brothers Gaudam and Karthick Anbalagan, the Muraho Trading Company runs the Kilimbi washing station in the Nyamasheke region of Southwest Rwanda. Working closely with them, through our partnership with Raw Material, we have formed a strong relationship with the brothers and the smallholder farmers who sell freshly harvested cherry to the washing station.
The lots from the Kilimbi washing station are clean, crisp and well-executed – showing an impeccable attention to detail throughout every stage of processing. Not only is the coffee a delightful expression of the flavour profile that Rwanda is known for – deeply fruity, rich and complex, but thanks to Raw Material’s pricing structure, the farmers are paid a value for their cherry that is consistently well over the market price, ensuring value is passed on all the way through the supply chain.
Located on the shore of Lake Kivu and accessible only by boat, the station currently purchases cherry from smallholders who live in the immediate locality. Kilimbi is unique as one of the first washing stations in Rwanda to be granted approval to produce natural and honey processed coffees by the ministry of agriculture. Previously a rarity, avoided due to quality concerns, this style of processing has seen a large uptake across Rwanda, largely thanks to the success of pioneers such as Kilimbi.
Their long experience in producing this style of coffee at Kilimbi shows in the cup, with the process itself enhancing the rich fruit notes without adding funk or barnyard characteristics, with a great intensity of flavour and clean structure. To achieve this, the team at Kilimbi hand sorts the freshly delivered cherry before pre-floating to remove the less dense underripes and any damaged cherries – key to reducing the potato defect spread by the Antestia bug. Following flotation, the cherries are pulped and fermented in concrete fermentation tanks for 12 hours, during which time the coffee is agitated several times through ceremonial foot-stomping. Once completed, the parchment is spread thinly on raised beds, with a layer of sticky fruit pulp still attached - the ‘honey’ – which acts as fuel for further fermentation during the 35-day drying process, lending added depth and complexity.
The workers at Kilimbi take expert advantage of the high altitude, maximal sunlight and excellent airflow the station’s site offers to manage the temperature and humidity of the drying coffee. This ensures a complex and squeaky clean cup, a testament to the old adage that practice makes perfect.
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For a Chemex for two people, start with 30 grams of medium ground coffee, the texture of coarse table salt. Bloom for 30 seconds with 70 grams of filtered water, just off boil, allowing the coffee to de-gas before we continue pouring. At 30 seconds we begin a slow, circular pour to 500 grams at 2:30. Stir the slurry and allow to draw down, for a total brew time of approximately 3:15.