This coffee is the result of an experimental processing technique we applied in Rwanda for the first time in 2017. We know it's a first for Rwanda and think it may be a first in the coffee producing world. The goal was to combine the sweet, fruit forward flavour from a natural processed coffee and fusee that with a clean, crisp acidity that's generally derived from a washed coffee.
Kilimbi is a very progressive mill in Rwanda. It was founded in 2016 and went into production that year as well. Since the beginning, the focus has been on the production of the highest possible quality of coffee. The team behind Kilimbi work with 463 farmers that are delivering coffee cherries to the mill from surrounding land. When these farmers arrive, they’re sent to stations to sort through and separate the ripest, cleanest cherries from the under ripe, over ripe and defective. Through education and higher premiums per pound of cherry, the team at Kilimbi and MTCo are hoping that year after year their coffee quality will improve solely based on this.
The mill was founded in March of 2016, just in time for the harvest to begin. In the first year of operations, Kilimbi - along with sister station Rugali - became the first mills in Rwanda to legally process Honey and Natural coffees. We're lucky to have some of those coffees featured on our menu this year, as well as clean washed coffees and a small amount of a processing experiment we attempted with MTCo. This is the product of that experiment - something they've rolled with and turned into their "house" processing technique. We love that!
Through reading and learning about wine, we found a processing technique used in the North of Italy called Appassimento. The idea is to dry the grapes before juicing them to create more sweetness in the wine. We believe we can achieve similar in coffee by starting the coffee as a natural process then hydrating and removing the cherry and finishing the process as a washed coffee. The goal for us was to create a coffee that had the best of both worlds between these processing techniques. We're thrilled with our second attempt at this technique and excited to continue working toward improvements with the team at Kilimbi this 2019 season.
When we visited the mill, the team of just over 100 staff were prepared with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a traditional song and dance, to welcome us as the first North American buyers to visit. While we toured the operations, we were invited to partake in 'ikinimba' which is a dance on the coffee cherries to help activate the sugars for fermentation. It was a rigorous task although the energies were high and the smiles were large. After, we helped sort the coffee parchment of another tank that had finished its 12 hour fermentation period and pushed these coffees through a serpentine channel. This is a channel that has a slight slope with clean water flowing from the top. As the water flows, you use gravity to separate the beans by density, with the highest density sitting toward the top of the channel by the time the process is finished.
Around the mill, they have 140 total drying beds that average 30-40 days of drying per lot of coffee. Through the season, they'll process approximately 325 metric tonnes of coffee cherry purchased from 463 farmers in 2017.
Read our journal entry from our visit in 2017. Or our entry from 2018
Station Manager: Ntarindwa Joseph
Farm: Small Producers
Micro-Mill: Kilimbi CWS
Build Date: March 2016
First Year Rosso Purchased: 2017
Region: Nyamasheke, South Western Region of Rwanda
Processing Techniques: Hydro Honey (Hobe Honey)
Elevation: 1650 - 1850
Tasting Notes: Mango, Raspberry, Pineapple
Roasted For: Single Origin Espresso
This is our second year working with the Kilimbi Coffee Washing Station
We scored this experimental processing technique 88 points.