In 2017, Baho Coffee was launched with just two washing stations. They’ve now grown to operate 7 different stations, with representation in each province of the country. At a handful of stations, owner Emmanuel Rusatira is not only producing extremely clean natural and honey processed coffees, but also pushing processing boundaries with experimental fermentation techniques.
Bugoyi is located in the Western Province of Rwanda - near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and directly on the shores of Lake Kivu. Built in 2012 and purchased by Baho in 2016, Bugoyi is Emmanuel’s largest station producing predominantly specialty coffee.
Baho Coffee’s extremely detailed cherry collection records make it possible to trace which growers delivered the cherries that make up this blend. They are: Faustin Kimanga, Ezechias Byiyingoma, Asterie Mukabagwiza, Zantije Uwase, Alexis Mazeyo, Veriyana Rwabanjende, and Jean Mbitsemunda.
For this Bugoyi Natural, the total drying time for the coffee cherries was 64 days, which is notably longer than other naturally processed coffees. Emmanuel often compares his drying methods to that of a low and slow style of cooking, which produces an end product with more cohesive, sweet, saturated flavors. And it’s evident in the cup! We taste honey, chamomile, and strawberry in this sweet, summery brew.
Coffee was brought to Rwanda in 1904 and was commercialized in the 1930s under Belgian colonial rule. From the 30s to the late 1990s, most of the coffee produced in the area was produced in a low-quality/high-volume model, and for a significant amount of time, Rwanda’s coffee sector has been controlled by one or two major buyers.
Over time and with the standardization of farmgate prices, coffee quality has improved and producers have begun to make more money. But Rwandese farmers often make little off of their labor overall, as most profits benefit major multinational companies.
Emmanuel is one of a very small group of Rwandese people who are exporting their own coffee; this means that profits are remaining within the country and are being reinvested back into people and communities. There is a deep level of commitment and respect between Emmanuel, his employees, and the farmers who deliver to Baho stations. Unlike many multinational companies, Emmanuel is directly invested in the future of his own country.
Baho provides substantial resources to the farmers they work with, including production and harvest skills training, insurance contributions, physical resources like fertilizers and seedlings, and practical resources like transportation.
Emmanuel explains that Baho’s vision of community is guided by having a synergetic relationship with the community of farmers that they work with. “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.”
*If you would like this coffee ground, please specify the brew method in your order comments.