A lovely example of Rwandan coffee, this triple-washed Kivu Belt bursts with ripe apple and citrus anchored by layered notes of brown sugar and the sticky sweetness of caramel, honey and marmalade. Grown in the "Land of a Thousand Hills," the Kivu Belt is clean, smooth and juicy with playful acidity.
The shores of Lake Kivu on the western border of Rwanda represent some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and provide an ideal microclimate for coffee cultivation. The lake itself sits at 1459 meters above sea level (masl) and the surrounding hills rise to over 2000 masl. For obvious reasons, exceptional coffee abounds here.
Furaha Umwizye established Kivubelt Coffee in 2008 after returning to her home country of Rwanda with a Masters of Economics. Kivubelt includes both an estate coffee grove and washing stations that work closely with a community of dedicated smallholder coffee producers. This particular lot is from the washing station known as Murundo, located in Mahembe town in the Nyamasheke district. The station works with over 600 local producers to process their coffee cherries and train them in proper cultivation and harvest practices.
Last year, Kivu Belt provided health care assistance for the most vulnerable families in the local community and routinely ensures that the farmers receive second payments for quality premiums after the coffee is sold and exported. The company owns and operates its own dry mills as well, a huge advantage in maintaining traceability and export efficiency.
Although coffee represented Rwanda's primary agricultural export by the 1990s, its production and the national economy in general was devastated by the genocide in 1994. Nearly one million people were killed in the national tragedy which slowed economic progress for nearly a decade. Targeted programs initiated by the government in the early 2000s, however, encouraged Rwandans to rely on specialty coffee as a means to create a new agricultural market. With the launch of the first washing station with USAID support in 2004, the country was the first to host a Cup of Excellence auction, bringing international recognition to this region of Africa.
Today this tiny country, roughly the size of Maryland, contributes less than 0.2 percent of the global coffee supply, but its reputation for specialty coffee with a unique terroir has earned Rwanda a significant place at the table among African origins.