Farm: Karengera: Cyiya Washing station (KZ Noir)
Varietal: 100% Red Bourbon
Processing: Fully washed & dried on raised beds
Altitude: Altitude of washing station: 1,800 metres above sea level -- Altitude of farms: 1,600 to 2,000 metres above sea level
Owner: Around 661 smallholder farmers deliver to Cyiya washing station
Town / City: Nyamasheke
Region: Kirimbi Sector, Nyamasheke district of Western Province
Karengara: Cyiya - Rwanda
Karengera Cyiya washing station lies in the green hills of south-west of Rwanda, not far from the southern shores of Lake Kivu. It was founded in 2006 and is one of two washing stations in the area that make up the Karengera Coffee Company (the other is Cyivugiza). Although the washing station lies at 1,800 metres above sea level, coffee around Cyiya is grown at altitudes of up to 2,000 metres.
Some 700 smallholder farmers from the local area deliver cherries to Cyiya. Almost all of these farms are very small - typically less than a quarter a hectare each. Most farmers use their small plots to produce both coffee (300 - 800 trees per farm on average) and subsistence food crops such as maize and beans to feed their families. The ripe cherries are picked by hand and then delivered to the washing station, usually in baskets on farmers’ heads and occasionally on bicycles or trucks.
Cyiya is managed by Jonathan Ruzindana, an agronomist by trade, who at 62 years old is one of the most experienced managers we know in Rwanda! Cyiya employs around 100 staff over harvest season - which usually runs from March until July.
Once the cherries have been delivered to Cyiya they are carefully hand-sorted to make sure only red cherries are accepted. They are then pulped the same day - almost always in the evening - using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight (for around 12 hours) and then graded again using flotation channels that sort the coffee by weight (heaviest – or A1 – being regarded as the best). The beans are then soaked for a further 24 hours, before being moved to raised screens for ‘wet-sorting’ by hand. This final task is almost always carried out by women and is of huge importance to quality control.
The sorted beans are finally moved onto African beds (raised screens) and dried in the sun, where they are repeatedly turned and sorted – ensuring both even drying and the removal of any damaged or ‘funny looking’ beans. The dried beans are stored in parchment in carefully labeled lots until they are ready for export. The coffee is then sent to be dry milled in Kigali, from where it is loaded and shipped.
Lots are always separated out by days. Upon delivery as cherry, the coffee receives a paper ‘ticket’ that follows the lot through all its processing. This ticket bears the date of harvest and the grade (A1, A2 etc) of the coffee – for instance, if a coffee lot is called ‘Lot 1- 06/04 - A1’, this means it was the first lot processed on April 4 and the grade is A1. This simple but effective practice is a crucial tool in controlling quality and ensuring the traceability of lots.
Every season, Karengera donates fertilizer made from leftover coffee pulp to the farmers around its two washing stations and have established waste water treatment using IM technology. Karengera has recently initiated a training programme in agricultural best practices for its farmers.
This washing station is Rainforest Alliance Certified.