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Steampunk Coffee Roasters

Rwanda Rwamatamu Peaberry

Rwanda Rwamatamu Peaberry

Regular price £13.00 GBP
Regular price Sale price £13.00 GBP
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Region: Nyamasheke, Western Province
Altitude:  1,800 - 2,000 m.a.s.l.
Variety: Red Bourbon
Processing: Washed


Tasting Notes: An overall mellow and compelling coffee with aromas of fig conserve, vanilla biscuits, molasses and caramel along with an intriguing spiced note. 
Back for a second year running, this is a lovely peaberry coffee from our friends at Rwamatamu washing station near Lake Kivu in western Rwanda. This February we tasted several Rwandan samples multiple times and in the final blind cupping this was the one that took the top spot. We were thrilled to find that our favourite cup was produced by Rwamatamu!

It took longer than usual for this coffee to reach us due to the disruption of shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi rebel attacks in response to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The harvest in Rwanda lasts from March through May and coffee is ready to ship by August. Accordingly, we expected to get landed Rwandan samples in November 2023, but they didn’t arrive in the UK until the end of January 2024. 
 

All’s well that ends well, though, and we still managed to nab a great lot from folks we are happy to be able to work with again. Even better, this time around we’re donating £1 from the sale of each tin to Rwamatamu’s Youth Cooperative Project. Their Youth Cooperative will be for 18- to 35-year-olds interested in learning environmentally sustainable and economically profitable coffee farming practices. Rwamatamuwill provide hands-on training from established agronomists as the group cultivate a communal lot of coffee trees. Overall they’re looking to raise $6,700 to get the project off the ground. We’re hoping to be able to contribute at least £500. If you want to know more or make a direct donation, you can find more info HERE.

This lot is made up of peaberry beans, which refers to the shape of the bean when only one seed develops instead of two. Technically it’s considered a defect but the uniform shape and size means the roasts can be more consistent. During processing these beans are mechanically separated out from the rest of the normal-shaped beans. Typically microlots are selected because of their location in a particular hill or the day they were picked (a.k.a. day lots), or because of the distinctive flavours present in the cup. But peaberry lots are made up of coffee from the entire growing area picked over the entire duration of the harvest. It’s a different style of microlot entirely, but peaberry lots have traditionally been prized for their sweetness and complexity. It could be these flavours are due to more yummy flavour components being developed during plant growth and then getting concentrated into the smaller package of a single small bean rather than two bigger beans. Or it could be that the uniform size and shape of the bean mean that they develop more evenly in the roaster. Maybe a bit of both?

A family owned and operated washing station, Rwamatamu was established by Gaston Rutaganda and Laetitia Mukantwaza in 2015. Back then the couple wanted to grow and process coffee in order to support their family and to create jobs in their local community. There’s been a lot of growth since then but these twin aims, focusing on family and community, are still the driving forces at Rwamatamu. 

Today, the washing station is operated by Gaston and Laetitia’s daughter Bernice Marie Umuraza Rutaganda and her husband, Luke Walther. Bernice grew up on the plantation and has supported her family’s work over the years by translating negotiations, creating educational materials and managing marketing. While she was in the UK to earn a degree in project management Bernice met the folks at Omwani Coffee, the importer who brought us this coffee. According to James at Omwani, “What hit us right off the bat was her unfiltered enthusiasm for her family's coffee – it was contagious, to say the least. As we delved deeper into Bernice's world, it wasn't just coffee that fueled our connection. Shared values and community impact surfaced in our conversations.”

Last year Luke and Bernice hosted our Head of Coffee, Ludwika Kopczynska, for a whirlwind two-week trip. She worked with them to establish a cupping lab at the washing station so that they can roast and taste their coffee before selling it. This knowledge exchange typifies the kind of relationship we’re excited to foster with producers. It’s also just one of several interesting collaborations that Omwani has made possible. 

Dave Burton, Omwani’s Head of Coffee, is spearheading another exciting collaboration. He set up an experiment at the washing station to learn more about using specialised yeasts during fermentation. The goal of the experiment is to control and elevate the coffee’s natural flavour so that, at a larger scale, overall quality can be improved thus maximising farmer income. You can read more about that on their blog. Ludwika and the Steampunk team were excited to give feedback on the different lots when they were ready for cupping in September. It was some of the most interesting coffee we tasted last year. 

And finally, the team at Migoti washing station in Uganda, where Ludwika spent six weeks in 2022, visited Rwamatamu while Ludwika was in Rwanda. Later in the year the folks at Migoti played hosts to Luke and Bernice. Ludwika remains in touch with the people she met at both washing stations, getting photos and updates about the latest harvest and checking in how everyone is doing. 

Youth Cooperative Project:

https://www.omwani.com/producer-led-projects/youth-cooperative

Omwani blog on Rwamatamu partnership

https://www.omwani.com/post/the-journey-of-rwamatamu-our-second-year-in-partnership

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