Name: Ngoma Rugeregere Hill Region: Bushekeri Sector, Nyamasheke District, Western Province, Rwanda Tasting Notes: raspberry, white tea, sweet (rock candy) Producers: (Baho Coffee) Smallholders of Baho Coffee / Emmanuel Rusatira Process: Low Oxygen Natural - 72 Hour Fermentation Variety: Red Bourbon Altitude: 1500-1850 masl
Emmanuel purchased the Ngoma Washing Station in late 2019. It’s located in the famed Nyamasheke district and set in one of the most stunningly beautiful locations, directly on the shores of Lake Kivu. Ngoma is known for consistently producing fruit-forward, complex coffees with floral tasting notes.
The Rugeregere Hill lot is a part of Baho’s ongoing appellation (cherry traceability) project surrounding the Ngoma Station. This is the first year that Baho has isolated coffees from the 4 smallholders that live nearest Rugeregere Hill and has processed them together; those smallholders are Bavakure Afrodis, Baziruwunguka Emmanuel, Kanyamukenke Jean, and JMV Mahoro.
In 2018 Emmanuel began experimenting with whole cherry fermentation techniques that could differentiate him within the specialty market – you can think of these techniques as a low and slow style of cooking, but applied to coffee processing.
Top-quality coffee cherries are packed tightly in plastic tanks where they ferment, in this case for 72 hours. Baho’s experimental fermentation methods would fall under the umbrella of what is often called “anaerobic natural processing,” but because all processing methods are anaerobic, we refer to this process as a low oxygen whole cherry fermentation. This method of fermentation plus longer than usual drying methods contribute to a higher intensity and complexity of fruit flavors and sweetness in the resulting coffees.
We taste raspberry and white tea in this sweet cup.
Rwanda: 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.”
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