Rwanda, one of the smallest countries on the African mainland, is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. Located in the near eastern to central region of the continent, it is dominated by high elevation geography such as mountains and savannas. Lakes are also a plentiful geographical attraction as well. Rwanda is one of two countries where you can pay for safari to see mountain gorillas. Along with the mountainous elevations and predictable rainy seasons, Rwanda is a country perfect and primed for growing and cultivating coffee.
Coffee and tea, two of Rwanda’s major cash crops, are more popular than neighboring Zimbabwe and Zambia coffees, but have yet to reach the high reviews of Kenya coffees. Introduced by German missionaries in 1904, Rwanda has grown to be Africa’s ninth largest Arabica coffee producer. Nearly 70,000 acres being farmed by about 450,000 small producers, less than an acre per farm, are cultivating Arabica coffee throughout the country. And just like the former African countries of origin, coffee is much more a cultural reality than a mere export, attaching principles like Hope (“Ikizere”), Vision (“Ikerokoza”), and Proud (“Ishema”) that guide how people work together.
Rwanda’s coffees are about 95% of the Bourbon (boor ‘bon) and wet processed. Elevations can be anywhere from 1200 to 1800 meters above sea level. The level of sustainability of Rwanda’s wholesale market depends upon the political climate and stability at that time. Rwanda has been tortured by war and genocide for decades depending on what political party is in power.
As for the taste of Rwanda’s coffee it often produces the typical African coffee standard of floral notes and a higher acidity than coffees in other parts of the world. Lemon, oranges, and other citrus qualities are common as an initial taste with a sweet caramel flavor finish.