There are many things that are a part of being a coffee lover. One of those things is when fantastic coffees make more than one appearance in my kitchen. Another big part of being a coffee lover is simply saying the names of some of these coffees out loud—some of them have really fun, singsong names.
The coffee that is on the Table today represents both of those things: the Rwanda Abakundakawa Rushashi.
This Rwanda comes to us from the Abakundakawa Cooperative in the Gankenke district in the northern part of the country. The cooperative was formed in 2004. Besides being incredibly fun to say out loud, Abakundakawa currently boasts a producing membership in the thousands.
More impressively, in a continent that isn’t really known for equal rights for or, indeed, even friendliness to women, Abakundakawa promotes the efforts of its’ female farmers, who comprise over 40% of the cooperative.
Of the current 1,760 members of Abakundakawa Cooperative, 720 are women. Seventy women make up the Duhingekawa women’s group—which means “let us grow coffee” in Kinyarwanda.
Furthermore, the women who are in the Abakundakawa group are women heads of household—that means their husbands were mostly killed at the time of the genocide in the mid-1990′s. They are looking after their own children, but often they are also looking after orphans from families of relatives, and even of non-relatives, where both parents were killed. They have formed a group within Abakundakawa.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of the Rwanda Abakundakawa Rushashi, from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters in Tacoma, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Gakenke, Rwanda
farm: Abakundakawa Cooperative
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1700 – 1900 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
certifications: Fair Trade, Transfair USA
Opening the bag of Rwanda Abakundakawa and a rush of peanut butter and lilac aromatics emerge from inside, and the wet aroma retains the floral aromatics with additional notes of milk chocolate, brown sugar, and citrus.
Greeting me in the first few sips of this mug are some really unique flavors. Lush black grape jelly is interspersed with sweet brown sugar and bitter clove astringency.
As it cools off, that black grape flavor gains intensity as it fleshes out over a palate-coating honey mouthfeel. Meanwhile, the coffee gets super duper fruity—explosive, even. Honeydew melon, green apple, sweet cherry, orange, and a gorgeous, sparkling, tart lime acidity play out in a long, long lasting honey-saturated finish.
Full body; syrupy mouthfeel; lime acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
This Rwanda Abakundakawa Rushashi, from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters, is not the Rwanda Abakundakawa Rushashi that I’ve had in the past. The two I had (from Ritual and Handsome) were so incredibly unique, but similar, at least, to each other. What a difference a year (and a different roaster) make…
My former experiences with the Rwanda Abakundakawa were with a coffee that was sweet, airy, and decadent with incredibly unique notes of marshmallow, graham cracker, chocolate, honey, and strawberry. I had never had anything like it before, and I haven’t had anything like it since. Even including today.
No, today’s coffee was fruity and herbal, complex and dynamic. So many interesting flavors, such a unique overall profile—the Rwanda Abakundakawa is a coffee all into itself. An utterly singular coffee that provides an utterly singular experience. Truly memorable.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.