Variety: Red Bourbon
Washing Station: Humure
Farmers: Edouard Ntaganda, Nahason Rukara, Boniface Ahorukomeye, Gaspard
Bazatsinda, Emmanuel Benda, Claver Bihoyiki, Julia Cyurinyana, Damascene
Gakwandi, Damien Sibaniro, Gilbert Sindayigaya, Manase Twahirwa, Samuel
Barigira, Claver Bihoyiki, Bibiane Candari.
Location: Remera Sector, Gatsibo District, Eastern Province
Harvest: April – May
Average Farm size: 0.4 hectare
Farm Altitudes: 1550-1850masl
Process: Washed / Wet
When it comes to coffee, we’re always excited about finding the stories behind the beans. Our latest adventure led us to the hilly landscapes near Baho’s washing stations in Rwanda, where we found a unique initiative tracing coffee lots to specific local communities.
This level of traceability isn’t commonly seen in East African coffees. It not only piqued our interest as coffee buyers, but also proved beneficial for Emmanuel, the guiding force behind Baho Coffee, and his vast network of producers.
Strengthening Connections Through Coffee
The concept is simple yet effective – by closely connecting with individual producers, we ensure a sustainable relationship with them that motivates and inspires other growers. The outcome? A healthy competition that drives growers to not only secure solid pay for their coffee cherries but also yearn for recognition and relationships that are seldom extended to smallholder growers.
Spotlight on Remera Hill Group
Take the example of the Remera Hill group, a newly formed cluster of farmers in an area akin to Humure, in the Remera district. These growers were identified based on the belief that their hill has the potential to be a remarkable microclimate for cultivating quality coffee.
Through a coordinated effort, these farmers’ lots are separated, making it possible to trace their hard work back to them. Emmanuel had a particular reason for selecting these farmers – they are committed coffee entrepreneurs who have adopted good agricultural practices and environmental conservation. They also provide jobs to many small farmers, particularly during the harvest season.
By selling coffee under their names, these farmers are motivated and take pride in their work, leading to an increase in energy and commitment. Emmanuel’s vision is for these farmers’ coffee to be served in coffee shops globally. They have even signed a commitment letter with Baho, agreeing to maintain good agricultural practice and deliver cherries to Baho Coffee Washing Stations (CWS).
Transformation of Humure Washing Station
Emmanuel’s dedication and innovative spirit shine through at the Humure Washing Station. Named after the highest hill in the area, Humure is nestled in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.
Purchased by Emmanuel in 2018, the station has seen a major transformation in infrastructure, thus increasing its production capacity by nearly 20 times. As the largest station owned by Emmanuel, Humure stands as a beacon of Baho’s commitment to gender equality in Rwandese coffee, with its main manager being a woman.
A Glimpse into Baho Coffee
With almost two decades of experience in managing washing stations throughout Rwanda, Emmanuel Rusatira and his family started Baho Coffee to channel his philosophies and high-quality protocols through six washing stations.
Baho Coffee, which translates to ‘life’ in the local language, is the embodiment of Emmanuel’s vision for a synergistic relationship with the community of farmers. His proactivity extends to educational initiatives, seedling distribution programs, and continuous experimentation with the fermentation process, making Baho Coffee a hub of innovation and community development.
A Brief History of Coffee in Rwanda
Rwanda’s journey with coffee has been tumultuous. What started with German missionaries in 1904 became commercialized under Belgian colonial rule in the 1930s. The low-quality/high-volume production model persisted even after independence and was further disrupted by political instability and the 1994 genocide.
However, the Rwandese government, backed by international NGOs, made strides to rejuvenate coffee production by constructing washing stations and increasing the quality of Rwandese coffee. From just two washing stations pre-genocide, Rwanda now boasts 315!
The Road Ahead
The Rwandese coffee sector, despite being small, presents immense potential for meaningful impact by buyers. The aim is to reverse the trend of profits being drained out to multinational corporations and instead keep them within the country, redirecting them back to the people and communities that are the backbone of this industry.
Baho Coffee is one such entity that is retaining profits within Rwanda and using them to empower the local community. This strategy continues to push quality upwards, garnering international recognition and ensuring that more value is returned to farmers.
In conclusion, Baho Coffee’s work has been a journey filled with passion, dedication, and most importantly, a shared love for coffee. We are thrilled to be part of this transformative endeavor and look forward to sharing more about our shared pursuit of excellence in coffee.
So next time you enjoy a cup of coffee, remember the toil, dedication, and passion that has been poured into every bean by farmers and coffee enthusiasts alike, from the hills of Rwanda to your coffee cup.