The journey of this coffee starts at the smallholder farmers who live in the village, growing the variety red bourbon on small plots of land. The coffee is picked by hand once reaching a rich burgundy colour, an indicator of a good amount of ripeness, and then delivered to the washing station. The land is vibrant, full of life, with good biodiversity. The altitude is suitable for the production of exceptional quality coffee, delivering hot days and cooler nights which slow the maturation of the coffee cherry.
The farmers who deliver their cherry to Rugali are paid a consistently higher price, no matter how the commodity coffee price fluctuates – allowing a fair and equitable return of value to the producers. The processing at the washing station is top-notch as well, with multiple stages of hand sorting both before and after the washing process, lending clean and crisp flavours and uniform ripeness to the coffee, as well as reducing the incidences of the notorious Rwandan “potato” defect. The coffee is dried on raised beds, allowing the maximum amount of airflow and sunlight for consistent drying. Once dried to a moisture level of 10-11%, the beans are packed into jute bags for shipping to the dry mill. The dry milling process removes the papery protective layer around the green beans, to allow the coffee to be exported ready to roast.
At the end of the process, the green beans are sorted a final time – first by a colour sorter, a machine that can remove defective off-colour beans with blistering speed, and then by screen size. This is accomplished using a machine that uses multiple stacked trays with uniform circular holes, each tray having a decreasing width of hole.
Using screen size sorting, the green beans are separated out into uniform diameter and also sorted by density. There is a surprisingly variance in the tastes across different sizes – the classic example is the Kenyan system of AA, AB, PB! Separating the different grades by screen size allows the coffee to be priced appropriately for its quality, the separation of unique flavours, allows roasteries to roast consistently as the green coffee will behave more uniformly, as well as the removal of small/underripe or chipped beans prior to sale.
This lot is screen size 13/14 – relatively small sized beans (no larger or smaller than 5.5-5.25mm), we have found them to be incredibly dense and concentrated, and carrying a zingy acidity that we thought perfect to purchase as an espresso lot. We’ve found it a joy profiling this coffee for espresso – perfect as a long black, flat white or iced latte.
Our starting recipe is 18g, 42g out, 33s – a longer shot allowing the zesty flavour to shine. Experiment with ratios up to 1:3 – this coffee responds well to playful brewing