Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)
Sept. 13. 2018

I traveled to Rwanda again, mainly to see the harvest in action and visit new projects. Or course I was at many of the coffee washing stations we have relied on for such great quality, like Tumba and Mutovu and Cyato. But this was a chance to see new stations too, some with great potential for cup quality. It's also a chance to use our new library site for travelogues, something that has been difficult in our previous format. Let's see how this works ... -Tom

  1. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Why Leave Kigali?

    Some come to Rwanda and never leave the capital. I don't blame them. Sadly I can't enjoy these ammenities for more than the first night tho... Pili Pili Lodge

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  2. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    God Is Good, Baby

    Headed north from Kigali to the Rulindo tea and coffee areas. Vans/small buses are called Mutatus

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  3. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Hybrid Bike

    A combination of metal frame Phoenix bike and a wood frame push bike. In many trips here this is the first time I have ever seen something so inventive as this!

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  4. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Live Your Dream

    Stores like this are in the rural areas and I always wonder what their facilities actually consist of ...but ambitious, yes for sure. Recording studio, commercial video production, DJs, etc etc. I'm a huge fan of the artwork!

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  5. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Tumba Station, Rulindo

    We have been buying from Tumba for several years, and the viw when we approach the station is always so breathtaking. Rwanda is beautiful - Rulindo is beautiful - Tumba district is beautiful!

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  6. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Tumba, Mr. Venuste

    Tumba is owned by Venuste... his shirt reads "Ikawa Yacu" means “our coffee”. A local district shirt. He is respected here as an organizer and his former role as a local teacher. The station is always immaculate.

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  7. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Fermentation bath

    Rinsing out the fermented coffee, Tumba has a very clean water source so even the pulpy water has a clear look. This coffee is headed into the washing channel.

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  8. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Tumba Warehouse Lot 12

    Lot 12, tracking the parchment coffee as it dries, volumes, keeping each batch separate. It is a lot of work and quite different than the way other stations operate in other places. Also, I happen to be Lot 12 too I guess.

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  9. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Welcome to Rubavu

    ... formerly Gisenyi. This odd roundabout sculpture shows the mass re-branding of city and district names in Rwanda. Old names were seen as part of old regimes and bad times. Ok, Rubavu...

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  10. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Rutsiro Sector Coffee

    Headed south along the shore of Lake Kivu following the coffee belt. We end up in Rutsiro to stay, and visit a unique washing station here. Coffee leaves, Bourbon type.

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  11. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    #TurkeysOfCoffee Hashtag

    I doubt it will take off on the internet, but it could. I am sure that there's a positive relationship here, in terms of cleaning the ground and fertilization. But aren't turkies so grumpy? That made was for sure. Kinunu, Rwanda

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  12. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Sorting Cherry

    Cymbili Coop. They are presorting the coffee fruit for washed coffee, as well as producing naturals at this cooperative. It's a unique cooperative to, as they own the farm and the station. In Rwanda most co-ops are made up of small farmers who own their own small farms. They don't communally farm as is the case here. Saint Frank is the buyer.

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  13. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Weighing In at Cymbili Coop

    Cymbili coop owns the farm of 47,000 trees.The workers are all full-time and are paid as labors. All the profits go back to the association to reinvest in the farm. So it’s a different model than most co-ops.

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  14. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    The Nkora Dance

    Nkora is a historic station, said to be the first washing station in country. Before that coffee was home processed, which was usually just pulped and dried, not fermented. Here the laborers use their fet to work the already-fermented mucilage loose from the coffee parchment layer. The dance is a greeting for a visitor. I find it a little embarrassing honestly, but they don't ... so I try to respect that.

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  15. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Pile of Pulp

    These are all the fruit skins that are pulped off the coffee cherry in the first step of wet-processing. Getting rid of them responsibly is important, keeping them away from water supplies and away from the coffee drying beds. They can be part of a good compost mix. Best to add EM to the pile: Effective Micro Organisms. Nkora station leased by Olam. Claubert is the manager.

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  16. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Boating to Coffee

    Rwanda is one of the few places I have been where a traveler can travel by boat to the washing stations along Lake Kivu. We usd the Kinunu station boat to visit Burgurura Island, which has about 400 coffee farms. Clay and Jean Bosco of RTC

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  17. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Bugurura Island Trip - The Elder

    We stopped to visit one of the elders on the island in Lake Kivum Bugarura. like others she dries beans from the house eaves. There are 2000 people and 400 farmers on this island producing 300 tons coffee cherry

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  18. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Kids Watching Kids

    The whole family works, and I see this girl has her school outfit on, so this must be her after-school gig (I assume). On Bugarura island.

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  19. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)


    If I am not wrong, Sambaza are the only fish that can survive throughout Lake Kivu, uncultivated, in the shallows. You see penned-in Tilapia farming, but Sambaza can withstand the natural Methane that exists in the lake. (The methane is harvested now too as a fuel source).

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  20. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Beans on Bururura Island

    So important as a source of protein, the diverse coloring of local beans. I brought home some of the red variety and they are vigorous growers. Rwandan beans in Oakland California!

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  21. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Poser with old Coffe

    Old and unpruned Bourbon variety coffee trees on Burgurura island. It felt like stepping back 10 years in time on this island, to when I first came to Rwanda.

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  22. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Shades! Homemade!

    One of my favorite photos of the day... his friends also had made sunglasses of sorts from plastic wastes. So cool!

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  23. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Sambaza Boats -Bugurura

    Sambaza are mostly netted at night, attracted by teams of boats that work togther, attracting the Sambaza fish. The bait? Light. They mount laterns on the end of the boat and corral the fish into nets.

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  24. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    At Kinunu- Bourbon Coffee

    Kinunu washing station, bronze type of Bourbon coffee with nearly red leaves. It seemed like a NAEB type to me, a Bourbon hybrid. This is an amazing station with a complete wet mill and dry mill. The coffee was a known brand in the local supermarkets, not a coffee for export. But they had issues with a partnership with a Nigerian company under the name KZ Noir. So now the future path isn't quite clear. Kubwimana is true owner of station.

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  25. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Into the Red Orange Forests

    Planted eucalyptus forests have an unusual red fungus, that was nonetheless eerily beautiful. Most of this type of land in Rwanda is government owned.

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  26. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Motorbiking to Cyato

    To get to Cyato we had to use motorbikes. All the recent rains and bridge issues made transit impossible. But getting to Cyato was mandatory so we took to the motorbikes. Cyato is such a stellar coffee for us...

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  27. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    View of Cyato Station

    Cyato is now in its second year of operation. David Sanzira now sole owner of station. Coshako is his other station new ngoma where he implemented all the recommended changes, and was even verified for certification from multiple agencies - woo!

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  28. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    David and Cyato Photo

    I brought a photo of Cyato from the previous year to give to David. More important was news of the $1000 gift from Dalton, of Little Amps Coffee in PA. He shared the award he won in a barista competition, for improvements at the station. So cool!

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  29. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Cyato Station Trip

    Hipster T-shirts, Rwanda style. Cyato washing station. The woman are farmers are bringing in their small bags of coffee cherry, waiting to have them weighed and registered.

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  30. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    The Fantastically Mundane

    This is the room I use to enter my own hotel room at the glamorous and lovely Ishara Beach Motel. Just in case you need a hotel room, but also want to hold a buffet or an awards ceremony. BTW there is no beach there.

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  31. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Mornings with iChair

    The volume of odd iProducts in East Africa is pretty staggering. The iChair was my favorite on this trip.

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  32. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Mutovu, Nyamesheke

    Mutovu, which we have bought from since the old days... It was a coop and then was purchased by RTC in the middle of the season. The thing that came to light about old Mutovu was that only 8 people were coop members, and RTC did all the support, so it's likely better under this new arrangement.

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  33. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Natural Coffee at Mutovu

    At the time I visited ther was a focus on doing natural lots at Mutovu, which should be quite interesting given the quality of the washed coffee there. They are doing extra hand sorting of cherry, but rainy weather is slowing the drying, which is not ideal.

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  34. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Gitwe Station

    Gitwe is a coffee that was tasting really good in early samples. We are just receiving the mid crop samples at this time, and expecting great things from this washing station. It's located near the national Forest and receives coffee from some of the nicest, high elevation areas in Nyamersheke

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  35. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)


    Naturals and washed coffee in parchment, being dried side-by-side at Gitwe washing station. The wet weather early in the season has not been cooperating, so the station manager was looking forward to more intense sun to try the natural

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  36. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Drying Issues

    When natural coffee sits on the drying beds too long, or is layed out too thick, you can get issues like this. The molding happens only on the exterior of the fruit. But if it's left for too long it will affect the flavor of the final product. We like to see naturals dry within 14 days.

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  37. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Clouds in My Coffee

    Gitwe washing station, Nyamesheke. The water here is from the spring and is extremely clean. The result is beatiful reflections in the soaking tanks as the coffee ferments.

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  38. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Don't Lose Your Head Over Coffee

    One of my favorite warning signs, At Gatare CWS. The signs are the hallmark of international certifications. Station that has certifications will be plastered with all kinds of signs. At least some people have a sense of humor about it.

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  39. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Mwito Cherry

    Drying naturals at Mwito. This station is located on Lake Kivu at a lower elevation, in a very flat terrain. It seems ideal for drying natural coffee. But with the rainy weather it's taking too long for the cherry to dry. Hopefully these lots will turn out OK, but we will see when we taste

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  40. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Tea Shopping

    I was trying to find high quality Rwanda whole leaf tea, so stopped in a local shop in Nyamesheke. Supposedly Rwanda tea has a great reputation in the tea trade (I don't know a lot about tea). But most East African tea is sold through the Kenya auction, so it doesn't end up in you local store as Rwanda tea, but a blend.

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  41. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    No really, Fun.

    Farmer visit with Maria Mukasine, who I swerar was quite fun, but looks kinda pissed off in this picture. she has 2000 trees in 6 small farms. This farm we visited is right by a school, so there was about 100 kids at recess who were pretty excited about a "muzungu" visitor from the US.

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  42. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Boys school at the coffee farm

    So yeah, like 100 boys and some girls in there too, all curious about the visitor. Nyamesheke, Rwanda. At Maria Mukasine farm

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  43. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Maria's Old Bourbon

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  44. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Roya is Everywhere

    Roya fungus, or Coffee Leaf Rust ( CLR ) can be found on other plants around a coffee farm. In this case some clover of some kind. I have seen it on corn too. It likes any broad leaf plant.

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  45. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Kanyege Station

    Kanyege is not far from a washing station we have bought coffee from for many years, Mutovu.At this time of year they are pre-sorting coffee cherry as it arrives, much like they do in Burundi.

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  46. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Don't Cut Down Trees

    Sign to protect the environment at Nyakarenzo station visit. There is a story about Nyakarenzo: the local king wanted to grow coffee and invited missionaries to assist with this, So it was supposedly the first district to grow coffee in what would become Rwanda today.

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  47. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Fermentation Tanks at Nyakarenzo

    They do a single, dry fermentation at this station, which is the usual method in Rwanda. We buy from a couple stations that actually do double ferment and a soak too tho. Nyakarenzo

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  48. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    First Aid

    I got a kick out of their special supply closet of "First Aid for Women". To be fair there was a "First Aid for Men" closet too... it wasnt some odd form of exceptionalism here.

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  49. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Time for Phocus

    These guys... Phocus is the name of the station manager in white lab coat. Amazing name, very friendly and knowledgable fella.

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  50. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    My Multiple Exposure Thing

    Boredom or something else (I say the latter) drives me to make images like this. Oh, and my MFA too. It's about pointing a camera at someone or something you don't know or really understand, and failing to "capture" it/them.

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  51. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Fail Fotos

    I won't indulge too much, but I spend a lot of time on my side project making these images of things I see just fleetingly, all made in the camera by forcing it to fail to stitch imagery. I like looking at them too. Enough said ...

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  52. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Diesel Powered Probat

    Well, formerly diesel at least. This is the RTC Probat that came with the purchase of their plant in Rwanda, not being converted by the talented Bosco to gas, with advice from the knowledgable people of 4 Barrel Coffee.

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  53. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Coffee Warehouse Aesthetics

    Industrial Beauty at the new RTC warehouse in Kigali. Thye have a lot of overhead space lets say. These are bags of parchment coffee coming in from the washing stations, yet to be dry-milled.

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  54. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Color Sorting

    These new digital color sorters are pretty amazing, using multiple cameras to analize and remove select coffee grains that fall outside specific parameters. They are super fast.

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  55. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Gravity, or Density

    Sorting coffee by density is perhaps the most important quality procedure in the dry mill. You can fail to grade coffee by size, or you can not use a color sorter. And you can still produce good tasting coffee. If you don't sort on a density table, your coffee will suck. Don't get me started on catadors. Don't even!

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  56. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    And Finally, Cupping

    Despite this frowny face from the foam on the cup, Rwanda is one of my favs, a delicious and balanced coffee I take home on the weekends. Early crop cupping can be hard though, and takes some experience to distinguish quality when coffee is fresh and unrested.

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  57. Rwanda, A Photo Set (May 2018)

    Parting Shot

    The taste of the coffee is the best reason to get into roasting Rwanda, but this place, the beauty, the creativity ... do yourself a favor and visit some day. For real.

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