Producer: Smallholder Farmers
Varietal(s): Red Bourbon
Growing Elevation: 1800 Meters
Region: Nyakibanda. Huye District.
Established in 2014, the Nyakibanda Coffee washing station sits at 1800 meters, making it one of the highest washing stations in Rwanda. Over 600 small farmers deliver coffee cherries to the station from farms that grow coffee in sand and clay soil as high as 2,000 meters. This fully washed coffee goes through multiple quality sorts before drying on raised beds for 2-3 weeks depending on weather. Nyakibanda is located in the mountainous Huye district in southern Rwanda. The commercialization of coffee came about gradually in Rwanda and coffee was always produced on smallholder farms. Independence brought some improvement to the coffee infrastructure as the government established more modern and centralizing processing. But this meant the government set the price they would pay for coffee and farmers had no other options. There was no focus on quality because there was no incentive whatsoever. Despite much of the coffee being Bourbon, there was no sorting or grading so all the coffee was commercial grade. Rwanda exported 642,000 bags of coffee in 1993 and 447,000 in 1994. Then, as something of a stark reminder of the genocide, Rwanda exported a mere 22,000 bags in 1995. Today, Rwanda exports only 43% of what it did in 1993, but current exports represent much greater value because for the last 20 years the focus has been on quality rather than quantity. Rwanda’s ideal growing conditions are no longer wasted on poor processing. New washing stations have opened in all coffee growing regions, innovative cupping labs that arrive built into shipping containers, and cooperatives have been established. For the last 10 years, Rwandan specialty coffees have rivaled the quality of other top coffee producing countries.