Rwanda: Baho Coffee - Fugi Washing Station
LOCATION: Nyaruguru DIstrict, Southern Province
HARVEST: April - June
FARMERS DELIVERING: 950 smallholders
STATION OWNER: Baho Coffee / Emmanuel Rusatira
ALTITUDE (Station): 1550 masl
ALTITUDE (Farms): 1500 - 1850 masl
VARIETY: Red Bourbon
PROCESSING: washed, honey, natural
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION: 1377 mm per year
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE: 17.9 °C / 64.22 F
AVERAGE DRYING TIMES: fully washed - 37 days / honey process - 44 days / natural process - 52 days.
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The Fugi Washing Station is located in the Southern Province of Rwanda, almost directly on the border with Burundi, and works directly with approximately 950 smallholder producers.
On average, the producers bringing coffee to Fugi manage between 170 - 200 trees, equal to about one and a half exportable bags of green coffee per producer. This illustrates just how small producers in Rwanda are on average, and why they sell to washing stations rather than developing their own costly wet and dry mills.
Fugi employs 70 people at the peak of the season - there are rotating seasonal and part time workers in addition to a core staff. As part of standard Baho practice, a pension for all workers is paid for them on top of their fair wages.
For the 2019 crop year, Fugi stood out as bright and complex washed coffees, clean and fruity naturals, and sweet and balanced honeys shone through the dozens of samples cupped.
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For those interested in the Fugi Stations unique processing, keep reading!
The first step regardless of process is cherry sorting. Under shade, every cherry is sorted to ensure only the ripest are chosen and that any visibly defective cherries are removed.
Next, the hand selected cherries are placed into tanks where they go through multiple rounds of flotation to separate off the defective beans. All Baho washed coffees undergo a double fermentation process. After depulping, the coffee is immediately dry fermented (placed into an open-air fermentation tank with no water) for 8 to 12 hours. The coffee is then washed and the tank is filled with water for an additional 8 to 12 hour wet fermentation (coffee completely submerged in water).
Once the fermentation is complete, the coffee is pushed through the grading channels. Here the coffee is very rigorously washed and separated by density.
After grading, the coffees are soaked (now with no mucilage attached) in a tank of water for a final 8 to 12 hours.
After soaking, coffees are moved onto shaded drying beds for 48 - 72 hours.
Total drying time for washed coffees is 35 - 40 days.
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Coffee is pulped without the use of water, leaving an ample amount of mucilage still attached to the seeds. After depulping, coffees are moved onto shaded drying beds for 48 - 72 hours. This has two distinct benefits. First, it sets the trajectory for the entire drying phase by initially beginning very gently and slowly under complete shade. Secondly, it allows ample time for additional sorting. Coffee is then moved to raised beds in full sun and dried without turning for 3 days.
After 3 days, the coffee is turned every 3 hours throughout the day until the moisture content reaches 12%.
Total drying time for honey processed coffees is 40 - 45 days.
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Boho Coffee who operate the Fuji Station have developed a unique method for drying naturals that allows them to both keep the rate of drying extremely slow, while also ensuring that the flavors are clean and free of over-fermentation.
Immediately after sorting and floating, coffee cherries go directly onto raised beds to begin drying. Coffee is spread thin and turned very frequently - every 2 to 3 hours throughout the entire process.
When coffee is at a moisture content of 20%, it is wrapped and covered with mesh netting for 2 days. At a moisture content of 17%, the cover is opened, and coffee is moved to beds under a completely shaded shed for 5 days. It is then moved back out to full sun until a moisture content of 14% is reached. At this point, the coffee is moved again under the complete shade until it slowly dries to a final moisture content of 12%.
Total drying time for natural processed coffees is 50 - 55 days.
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