Region: Nyamagabe District, Southern Province
Owner: The Sumbili Family
Altitude: 1,935 metres above sea level
Variety: 100% Red Bourbon
Processing: Fully Washed and sun-dried on African raised beds.
Floral with vanilla and sweet cream, raisin, maple, roasted almonds and dark chocolate and tangerine blossom.
The coffee is produced and named after Sumbili, who have produced coffee for 35 years. It is processed at Buf Café’s Nyarusiza washing station. For nearly 20 years (like all farmers in Rwanda) the Sumbili family sold their semi-processed cherries on to a middleman, with prices dictated by a single exporter. In the 1990’s, declining world prices and a commodity focused system, resulted in severe hardship for many farmers, many of whom abandoned coffee entirely. Thankfully the Sumbili’s did not, and in 2003, they began to focus on producing specialty coffee. After attending one of Buf Café’s educational sessions they focused their energies on improving their farming practices in order to maximise quality.
Sadly Mr Sumbili passed away in July of 2014, aged 83. His land was subsequently divided between his six children who have continued producing exceptional coffee with Buf Cafe.
Located in the Butare region in Rwanda’s South, the Sumbili family drop off their freshly picked cherries each and every day to a Buf Café. The cherries are then delivered to Nyarusiza washing station for sorting, processing, and drying. These lots are all marked with the Sumbili name and the picking date. This ensures that their lots are kept separate for inventory and scoring purposes.
This particular lot from the Sumbili family comes from cherries picked from the 25th of February through to the 4th of March.
How Sumbili is processed
- Perfectly ripe cherries are hand-picked and then delivered to the washing station – on foot, by bike, or by trucks that pick up cherries from various collection points in the area.
- Prior to being pulped, the cherries are placed into floatation tanks, where a net is used to remove the floaters (less dense, lower grade cherries). The heavier cherries are then pulped the same day using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades by weight.
- The beans (in parchment) are then dry fermented (in a tank with no added water) overnight for 8 – 12 hours. Following this, they are sorted again using grading channels. This process sends water through the channels and the lighter (i.e. lower grade) beans are washed to the bottom, while the heavier cherries remain at the top of the channel.
- The wet parchment is then soaked in water for the next 24 hours, after which it is moved to pre-drying beds where it is intensively sorted for around six hours. This step is always done whilst the beans are still damp because the green (unripe) beans are easier to spot. It is also always done in the shade, which protects the beans from the sunlight – something that helps to keep the parchment intact and therefore protect the bean better.
- Finally, the sorted beans are moved onto African beds – directly in the sun – where they dry slowly over 10 – 20 days. During this time the coffee is (yet again) hand-sorted carefully for defects, and turned regularly to ensure the coffee dried evenly. It is also covered in the middle of the day when the sun is at its hottest.
- Once they are at 12% humidity, the coffee (still in its parchment) is stored in the washing station’s warehouse, in carefully labeled lots, until it is ready for export. From there it is transported to Kigali (Rwanda’s capital), where it is dry milled to remove the parchment; where it is hand-sorted one last time to remove any physical defects. Finally it is bagged into 60kg portions, packed into a container and shipped to us!