Fugi Urubyiruko Washed, Rwanda
Origin: Southern Province, Nyaruguru District, Rwanda
Producers: Grown by Shinani Maniraho, Pascal Mazimpaka, Paul Biziyaremye, Oscar Niyomugabo, Laurent Misigaro.
Process: Washed By Baho Coffee @ Fugi Washing Station
Varieties: Red Bourbon
Importer: Semilla Coffee & Baho Coffee
Notes: Yellow Plum, Black Tea, Rosehip
We are super excited to be able to work with Semilla and Baho, and offer two beautiful coffees from the Urubyiruko producer group. Majority of the write-up for the two coffees is going to be the same, except for the processing, just a heads up!
Back in 2019, Emmanuel presented Semilla with a bit of a rare thing, fully traceable lots in an East African producing country. These lots went all the way to specific hills near the washing stations where to coffees were grown.
This traceability and transparency is a core value of Baho Coffee in Rwanda. By connecting more closely with producers, we're able to ensure we continue to grow with them in the future. It is also hugely inspirational for the producers, not only getting paid premium bucks for their high quality coffee, but the recognition of seeing their name on these coffees.
"This project at Fugi first began with the Kiyonza Hill group - smallholders living on the nearby Kiyonza mountain - and Ikizere -the widowed and single mothers group. The recognition these groups have received as smallholders has been so motivating for
the growers that now almost all of them hope to be included in a group. As such, we’ve now expanded to include multiple new hills and also a Senior Men’s group and the Urubyiruko (Youth in Kinyarwanda) group." - semilla
This is Have Fun.'s and Semilla's first year buying from the Urubyiruko group at Fugi, and we couldn't be more pleased. Not only are the cups tasting amazing, and the prep on the coffee's looking clean, the producers also incurred amazing benefits.
The producers received 650 Rwandan francs, + an additional post harvest payment of 50RWF post harvest per kg of cherry sold to the mill. This is roughly 66% above the national farmgate price of 420RWF. They also received health insurance, tools and protective equipment, and fertilizer for their fields.
This washed coffee is processed at the Fugi Mill, owned by Emmanuel of Baho Coffee. The mill is right between the border of the Nyungwe National forest, and the border of Burndi, in the Southern Province of Rwanda.
It was built in 2013, employs roughly 70 people at peak season, purchases cherry from approximately 950 smallholder farmers, and producers around 900 exportable specialty coffee each year.
"On average, producers bringing coffee to Fugi manage around 600 trees, with a median cherry yield per tree of 3kg - this equals about one and a half exportable bags of green coffee per producer. This figure perfectly exemplifies just how small the average producer is in Rwanda, and it gives some context as to why they are selling to washing stations rather than developing their own costly wet and dry mills." - semilla
Processing - we're going to copy over what we have been given from Semilla & Baho, it's pretty specific and well, written better than I could!
Cherries are brought to Fugi washing station within six hours of picking, and undergo intensive hand-sorting to ensure only the ripest cherry is selected.
These cherries then undergo multiple rounds of floating to remove the less dense coffees. The highest quality cherries are placed in sealed bags and left for overnight for approximately 12 hours.
After depulping, the seeds are moved directly to the grading channels. Here the coffee is rigorously washed to remove any remaining mucilage and separated by density. After grading, the coffees are soaked (now with nearly no mucilage attached) in a tank of water for a final 8 to 12 hours. This is thought to promote even
distribution of moisture throughout the seeds, thus leading to more even drying.
Coffee is then moved onto shaded drying beds for 48 - 72 hours. During the first 5 days on the tables, parchment is only exposed to sunlight for a maximum of 3 hours per day, and it is manually turned every 30 minutes to avoid cracking from overly
fast drying. It’s finally moved onto drying beds in full sun and turned 4 times per day. Temperature is closely monitored throughout the day - if it exceeds certain thresholds,
workers will focus on turning coffee more frequently or cover the beds with mesh netting.
When the moisture content reaches 11.0%, the drying phase is considered complete. The parchment is bagged and stored in a dry warehouse until time for milling. Total drying times for washed process coffee is around 30 - 40 days.
The relationships around this coffee are what make me(sonny) excited about being in the coffee industry. Quality of cups aside, it's amazing to see people work together for a common goal of uplifting and growing together, and I feel very privileged to play a very small (and frankly, the easiest) role in this.
Rwanda as a country has been through so much, from brutal German/Belgian colonial rule, to shaky independence, economic crises, and then the genocide. That's why it's so inspiration to see the work of people like Emmanuel who care so deeply for their people and country.
Emmanuel writes -
“Baho’s vision on community is guided by having a synergetic relationship with the community of farmers that we work with, where we guide them and create solutions in a replicable, sustainable and scalable manner leading to economic growth and poverty reduction. Our overall vision is implied by the meaning of our name, Baho, which in our local language means live/life. It is like a tree that grows up and has branches, flowers and fruits and still keeps its roots in the ground. Baho is born, grows up and sells coffee both locally and internationally and never forgets the origin.”
We hope to to be able to buy more coffee from Baho as we grow, and hopefully continue to watch Baho's branches of producers grow as well.
Thank you if you made it this far down! you can read more at Semilla's website if you're keen.