We love our Rwanda Dukunde Kawa Ruli coffee, with its medium body and sweet flavour stemming from brown sugar, fruits, hazelnuts and honey. The flavour is deep and decadent, but what makes these coffee beans truly special is the stories behind them as this blend comes from Musasa Dukunde Kawa in Ruli in the Ruli sector region in Rwanda, a cooperative steeped in tradition and history with a flair for incredible coffee.
Cooperatives like Musasa Dukunde give small producers the opportunity to work together and complete some processes centrally that they would previously have needed to use a separate producer or middleman for. The cooperative also offers opportunities to take part in social programs and training, as well as providing tailor made bikes and even cows which help with the everyday management of land and production. Musasa Dukunde Kawa is named for the word “Musasa”, which means “a place to make a bed” and “Dukunde Kawa”, which means “lets love coffee”, reflecting the difference these cooperatives have made to the coffee industry, creating opportunities to boost the economies and living standards of rural areas.
The cooperative began in 2003 by creating their first washing station in Rwanda’s rugged North West region, and at 1,999 metres above sea level, the Ruli washing station remains one of the highest in Rwanda. Today, Musasa Dukunde Kawa is made up of three separate washing stations and is one of Rwanda’s largest cooperatives, with over 2,000 members involved, and 1,500 (150 of which are not members) local farmers supported through the purchase and processing of cherries. Each of these small scale producers will own only around a quarter hectare of land and manage approximately 300 coffee trees, but through working with the cooperative they can be a part of a large harvest and share in the increased profits.
The level of care that Musasa Dukunde Kawa Ruli takes over the processing is truly impressive and even inspiring. Cherries are hand-picked only when fully ripe and then pulped that same evening using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades by weight. 2015 saw the installation of a brand new pulper that should increase the washing station’s capacity and give even more control over processing and quality. After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight (for around 12 hours) and then graded again using flotation channels that sort the coffee by weight (the heaviest being the best). The wet parchment is then soaked in water for between 18 and 24 hours to stabilise moisture content before being dried in the sun for 14 days. Each “lot” will have a paper ticket that accompanies it through the process, so it’s always clear when the lot was processed and what “grade” the beans are, this helps to ensure quality remains high and consistent as well as being traceable.
Rwanda Dukunde Kawa Ruli coffee tastes so good because every bean is processed with care and using traditional methods, with the locally farmed cherries and other fruits standing out and providing a fruity and sweet flavour, perfectly combining with the notes of brown sugar and honey to create a decadent and bright flavour.