Region: Nyamasheke district, Western Province
Owner: KZ Noir
Altitude: 1,800 metres above sea level (washing station), 1,600-2,000 metres above sea level (grown)
Variety: 100% Red Bourbon
Processing: Fully Washed and sun-dried on African raised beds
Floral and sweet. Berry acidity, brown sugar, figs and stone fruit. Heavy bodied, rich and complex.
We are thrilled to be able to share this tiny 3 bag micro lot from the Cyiya washing station with you.
The Cyiya washing station has been in operation since 2005 and is located at the southern end of Lake Kivu, which is located in the Western Province of Rwanda – a region that is as fertile as it is beautiful. Residing at an altitude of 1800 metres above sea level, Cyiya is managed by Tarzan Rumaziminsi, with support from agronomist Jonathan. Quality is the primary focus at Cyiya as evidenced by their recent, 22nd place in the 2014 Cup of Excellence competition. Harvest at Cyiya runs from April to June with 170 workers involved in sorting and helping during this period; this is in addition to the 12 permanent workers.
Each of the producers whose coffee is processed at Cyiya, are smallholders and usually own 250-300 coffee trees; cultivated on a mere acre of land.
Cyiya enables these farmers to combine their harvests into saleable quantities. Before the proliferation of washing stations and cooperatives such as Cyiya, most farmers were forced to sell semi-processed cherries to a middleman – who would then sell to a single exporter. At this time, world prices were down as was the quality of the coffee being produced; and with the market being driven by commodity grade coffee, this resulted in very low income for the farmers and led to many abandoning their farms all together.
Today, it’s a completely different picture. Farmers who work with Cyiya have seen their income at least double, and the quality that is produced is exceptional. This is thanks to the level of care that is taken in processing this coffee.
About KZ Noir
Cyiya is owned by KZ Noir, who purchased the washing station in 2010.
KZ Noir is headed up by the incredibly charismatic and passionate Gilbert. Gilbert is supported by an incredible team of individuals, including some of the best cuppers, QC managers and agronomists in Rwanda; each of whom is committed to quality and dedicated to improving the lives of its coffee farming community. KZ Noir takes active steps to protect the environment, using anti-erosion techniques and a special waste water treatment procedure at each of its washing stations to that ensure that processing coffee takes as little a toll on the land as possible. They also support the community of coffee farmers by providing agronomy training and sharing best practice, and by supplying organic fertilizers and pesticides, which are an essential part of producing exceptional coffee in Rwanda.
Over the past year, KZ Noir has been interviewing/surveying the coffee farmers that contribute cherries to their washing stations. These surveys cover a range of different demographic questions as well as using the ‘Progress out of Poverty Index’ to measure the quality of life for these farmers over time. This information helps KZ Noir better understand the livelihood and needs of farmers in the different the regions it operates; which in turn enables it to tailor and focus support where it is most needed.
Coffee Processing at Cyiya
- Cherries are picked by hand and only when they are fully ripe. They are carefully sorted upon delivery to the mill before being pulped that same evening using a mechanical pulper which divides the beans by weight into 3 different grades.
- After pulping the coffee is fermented for 12 hours overnight and then graded again using flotation channels that sort the coffee by weight (heaviest usually being the best). The coffee in parchment is then soaked in water for another 24 hours.
- The washed beans are then moved onto the pre-drying tables, where they are intensively sorted for around six hours. This is always done whilst the beans are still damp because the green (unripe) beans are easier to see and remove. It is also always done in the shade to protect the beans from direct sunlight (which they have found helps to keep the parchment intact and therefore protect the bean better).
- Next, the beans are moved onto raised drying tables in the sun for around 2 weeks (depending on the weather), where they are sorted again for defects, turned regularly and protected from rain and the midday sun by covers.
- The dried beans (still in their parchment) are stored in the washing station’s warehouse, in carefully labeled lots, until they are ready for export. When the coffee has been adequately rested (for at least one month) it is then sent to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, where a dry mill removes the parchment.
- Finally, the coffee is sorted again by hand to remove any physical defects, bagged in 60 kilo portions, loaded into a sealed shipping container, driven to port, and shipped to Australia!