Coffee Hunter Joanne Berry leads the German roasters’ guild on a tour of the coffee regions of Rwanda
It has been a privilege this year to visit Rwanda twice; it is a country which has very quickly found its way into my heart and where, thanks to those that came before me, we have great friends who are a pleasure to meet with. I returned in early October and this time with a number of our friends from the Deutsche Röstergilde in tow.
Our purpose was to meet with the people we work with there and visit the washing stations that process the lots we have chosen this year. In Rwanda we work closely with a number of people, some of whom we have been working with for over six years and who we remain committed to working with. Every year in visiting our friends and the washing stations their coffee comes from, our understanding grows. Understanding of the coffees themselves and how they are produced, of the realities our partners face in Rwanda, and of how we can work with people in a way that is sustainable. The hope is that this understanding is added to through every interaction and visit, through our growing relationships, and some day may near completion.
Rwanda is geographically divided into five Provinces: the Southern Province, Northern Province, Eastern Province, Western Province and Kigali Province. Each Province is divided into districts, of which there are thirty, and in turn these are divided into sectors. We currently work with washing stations in the Southern, Northern and Western Provinces.
Our first visit was to Buf’s Remera washing station, where we were met by Epiphanie, who kindly explained the history of Buf Cafe to us and showed us some of the coffee trees owned by Buf nearby. Remera is in the Southern Province of Rwanda, in the district of Nyamagabe and the sector of Gasaka. Our next stop was Cyiya, this is a washing station we have been working with now for two years and is situated in the Western province in the Nyamasheke district and the Kirimbi sector. Here we were met by the manager Ruzindana Jonathan who is one of the most experienced agronomists in Rwanda. He very kindly explained how they work at Cyiya and showed us around the washing station, he was good enough to also share in the experience of banana beer with a number of the members of the Deutsche Röstergilde, which was met with a mixture of reactions!
Our last visit was to Musasa Dukundekawa “let’s love coffee”, a cooperative we work with which owns and runs three washing stations. On this trip we visited the Ruli washing station; this is in the Northern Province of Rwanda, in the district of Gakenke and in the Ruli sector – hence the name of the washing station. I have yet to visit Rwanda and not visit Ruli: for us this is a very special place filled with people who are close to my heart.
Throughout our time in Rwanda together I could see that great new friendships where formed between the members of the Deutsche Röstergilde and the numerous people we work with. It was an amazing trip that was filled with much laughter, mostly induced by the antics of Sam and Zach.
This trip also allowed for some time to see sides of Rwanda that are not only coffee related we visited the Genocide Memorial in Kigali to learn more about the history of this amazing place and had the privilege of staying in the Nyungwe Forest. Here we were able to revel and reflect in the quiet beauty and peace of this country and its people.