Rwanda Dukunde Kawa
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Last year, three fellow Twitterers and I started to really discover the full potential of the social media giant when we participated in a project we called The Great Coffee Exchange of 2012. The four of us bought a bag of coffee near our hometown, divided it equally, and sent the portions to each other.

The project was so much fun, and we attracted so much envy, that 2013 saw the first EPIC Coffee Exchange. Eight Twitterers from around the country participated, so we split into two teams of four to make it manageable. My team consisted of Maxwell Mooney of Washington, David Simon of Massachusetts, and Andy Leviss of New York.

Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping my contribution to the Epic Coffee Exchange, the Rwanda Dukunde Kawa, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.

Founded in 2000, The Dukunde Kawa Cooperative (Musasa) cultivates its high-quality coffee near a mountain gorilla habitat in central Rwanda. By producing high-end coffee for the international market and employing a majority female workforce (80% of their employees, actually), the cooperative ensures maximum benefits to local families. In 2003, it built a washing station with funds provided by the Rwandan ministry of defense. In exchange for this support, the Dukunde Kawa cooperative donates 10 percent of its net profits annually to fund the construction of other washing stations throughout Rwanda.

Fair Trade certified since 2004, Dukunde Kawa secures a high standard of living for Rwandan farmers by ensuring access to an economically and environmentally sustainable coffee industry.

Dukunde Kawa’s president, Mr. Anasthase, says that improved quality and investment via their relationship with Fair Trade USA has been enormously beneficial in Musasa. All the children in this cooperative attend school, or are provided with financial credits to attend school, and cooperative members enjoy access to health care and insurance. Dukunde Kawa was awarded the prestigious SCAA Sustainability Award in 2012, at the SCAA Expo in Portland, for their commitment to shade-grown coffee and agriculturally responsible replanting efforts. The cooperative is currently undergoing a complete transition to organic agriculture, and will probably be fully certified organic by the end of the year.

the basics:

origin: Ruli, Gakenke, Rwanda
farm: Dukunde Kawa Cooperative
elevation: 1600-2000 meters above sea level
cultivars: Red Bourbon
process: fully washed, patio dried
certifications: Fair Trade

the coffee:

The Rwanda Dukunde Kawa’s aroma is sweet, soft, and delicate—dry and wet, alike. After grinding the coffee, the Table is under a cloud of raw cocoa powder and purple floral aromatics; while the coffee is brewing, vanilla, lilac, rum, and almond waft out of the cup, totally intoxicating me.

The flavor of the cup follows suit, being sweet and lightly floral. This coffee doesn’t burst onto the palate and shout “Where da party at!”—it quietly lulls me in, seducing me with candied tartness and caramelized sugar up front, then sweetens its case with a bouquet of floral aromatics; violet petals don’t flutter in over the top so much as they tickle the sides of the tongue while coasting in on a stream of honey, caramel, and vanilla.

As it cools off, the cup becomes even more delicious as soft red fruits come to the forefront. Each sip is defined by a ball of red fruit that rolls out of the cup, then bursts into a flood of juicy fruits—like Gushers candy—as soon it gets to the middle of the palate. Luscious fruits like Fuji apple, cherry, currants, plum, and mandarin dominate the flavor, but they are accompanied by tart berries—strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry.

At room temperature, the Dukunde Kawa’s profile takes another turn. The cup becomes remarkably light, with a fine, silky mouthfeel.  Suddenly, instead of sweet, candied, and fruity, it has become zesty, herbal, and a little nutty. It’s tart—a little bitter, even—and it bites the tip of the tongue with citric notes of lime, lemon, and tangerine. Meanwhile, jasmine and lilac aromatics flutter in over the top, tickling the roof of the mouth, and a veil is lifted to reveal roasted almond in the finish.

Medium body; silky mouthfeel; citrus acidity; slightly dry finish.

the bottom line:

The Rwanda Dukunde Kawa, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters, is a very special, very unique cup of coffee.The folks at the roaster label it “demure…coy, graceful, tender”, and those descriptors are pretty accurate. I’ve got some descriptors of my own that I think fit the bill: coquettish, flirty, complicated. This is a classically feminine coffee and it’s even characterized by feminine wiles. Dukunde Kawa is like a beautiful woman that flirts with you all night, then slaps you when you move in for a kiss, then gives you her number anyway.
Dukunde Kawa is the Scarlett O’Hara of the coffee world. She’s sweet and pretty, but she’s equally complicated, sassy, and has a mean bite; and even though I know I shouldn’t get involved with her because she’ll break my heart in the end, I just can’t help myself. It’s sweet and candied and sugarcoated up front; then she shows you how luscious she is with soft red fruits and juiciness; then, she does a complete 180° turn, altering her entire profile, becoming light and zesty.
There aren’t enough kind things in the world I can say about the Rwanda Dukunde Kawa—it’s one that everyone should experience for themselves.

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