Mahembe, Rwanda

Within the Western Province of Rwanda lies the privately owned Mahembe washing station. Justin Musabyiama returned home after the genocide in 1994 to invest in his local community by building a wet mill on his father's coffee plantation. Justin owns an 8-hectare farm himself and buys cherries from the surrounding area. Payment to his farmers include health insurance, school fees and cows. Our lot is a fully washed Bourbon variety.

Looking out onto a hill of one of the coffee farms near the Maheme washing station

The cherries are placed in a tank prior to pulping where any floaters are removed, the cherries are sorted for ripeness with any under or over ripe's being processed separately as lower grade coffee. The cherries are then put through a Penagos eco pulper to remove the skin, pulp and 70% of the mucilage. The coffee is then wet fermented for approximately 12 hours. After this, the parchment is graded and washed in channels and separated into two grades based on density, before being further soaked under clean water in tanks for 16 hours.

Washing and grading the coffee cherries

The parchment is then taken to pre-drying tables, located under shade where the parchment is still wet, enabling defects to be spotted more easily and removed. 

Farm workers grading the coffee parchment and removing any defects

The parchments are then dried on African drying beds for up to 21 days, with the parchment covered in shade during the midday heat, during rain and at night.

Looking out over the raised coffee drying beds

The strong focus on community building and quality checks shines through in the coffee, with it regularly finishing in the top five positions in the Cup of Excellence.  This coffee gives notes of apricot, papaya and black tea with a dry blackberry finish.