Rwanda Hingakawa Co-op Fair Trade

Rwanda Hingakawa Co-op Fair Trade

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About Rwanda Hingakawa Co-op Fair Trade

Arrived in early April, new crop. This is our first time offering coffee from the Hingakawa Women's Coffee Cooperative, which is part of a larger organization, the Abakundakawa-Rushashi Cooperative, founded in 2004. It is the first farmer's association run entirely by women.

Generally in Rwanda many property smallholders engage in subsistence farming. They grow an assortment of vegetables and fruit for their own consumption, and grow some cash crops, including coffee, to earn money. The actual quantity on some of these farms can be a little as a few trees (but of course some are larger). Once harvested, the coffee must be quickly brought to a local washing station where it will be collected and often combined with coffee from neighboring farms. It is then fully processed, going through the numerous steps of depulping, fermenting, washing, drying and milling, while at the washing station.


In a country like Rwanda there are few roads, and trucks are outside the reach of most subsistence farmers. Much of the coffee makes its way to the washing station on foot, or more recently, on specially designed bicycles. Washing stations are being built all over Rwanda to be close to where coffee is grown.

We are pleased to offer this coffee from Hingakawa, as it is the real life representation of the sacrifice and resolve of the co-op members who were daring enough to plant seeds of hope on the very same Rwandan hilltops where many lost their lives in a violent civil war. The association employs both Hutu and Tutsi women, the two tribes who were infamously at the center of the heart wrenching conflict. After Rwanda's coffee producing farms were for a time left deserted, several organizations began to assist in restarting production. Hingakawa ("Let's Grow Coffee") is more of a chant than it is a mere statement; it is a resolution to fight against poverty rather than each other, and with this sentiment they have been able to move forward and heal their community through cooperation and leadership.

  • Province: Northern
  • District: Gakenke
  • Sector: Rushashi
  • Altitude: 5,500-6,200 ft (1,700-1,900m)
  • Coffee variety: Bourbon
  • Coffee grade: A
  • Processing: Fully washed and sun-dried
  • Harvest: March - June

Cup Characteristics: Classic Rwandan wine-like profile and complex acidity shine through with plenty of citrus and sweetness to round out the cup. Layered, chewy and jam filled cup with a lot of character.

Roasting Notes: These are hard, dense, high grown Bourbon beans which can be roasted anywhere from the very light to dark. If you pull this roast before but close to second crack, the mouthfeel will be chocolatey smooth, perhaps the optimum roast level for this coffee from a native flavor perspective.

Rwanda coffee facts:

Population (2006): 8.85 million people
Coffee Production: 510 thousand bags (60 kg)
Country bag capacity: 132 pounds - 60 kg
Domestic Consumption: Very little. Traditional tea drinkers.
Coffee Export: 510 thousand bags (60 kg)
Cultivated Area: 28,300 hectares (about 70,000 acres)

Harvests: March-July

Arabica Introduced: 1904 by German missionaries.

Specialty Coffee Regions: The western and central regions.

Grades: Superior grades are A1, A2, A3 based on bean density.

Farms: many thousands of small farms (under one acre).

Botanical Varietals: Bourbon and typica.



Comments

Rwanda is a relative newcomer to specialty grade Arabica coffee production though coffee has played a major role in the economy of the country with coffee accounting for nearly 65% of export revenues. The country's bloody, genocidal civil war wrought economic and human devastation from 1990 until 2003, when international assistance and political elections brought some degree of stability to the country. Investment in the country's economy and crop production have aided in this tenuous stability.