The Kanzu washing station can be found in Nyamasheke, tucked away in a valley in the middle of the Congo-Nile Mountain Chain. Situated on the shores of Lake Kivu, the area is often called the Switzerland of Rwanda, and the coffees produced here evoke that particular beauty. The Kanzu washing station is well known for turning out exemplary coffees, even garnering awards from prestigious organizations like the Cup of Excellence. Coffee cherries here are floated and pulped using a disc pulper, and undergo a dry fermentation for about 16-18 hours. The remaining mucilage is washed off and the coffee is soaked for about 18 hours before being dried on raised beds with a mesh bottom.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Rwanda Kanzu LOT 12, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Nyamasheke, Western Province, Rwanda
farm: Rwanda Kanzu Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 – 2100 meters above sea level
cultivars: French Mission Bourbon
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma coming off the Rwanda Kanzu is sweet and spicy—not “spicy” in a hot peppery sense, but spicy in a baking spices way. Scents of brown sugar and gingerbread cookies dominate the aroma, with notes of cherry and tart citrus mixed in.
The flavor is pretty similar to the nose. The coffee is relatively full-bodied and possesses a lightly syrupy, buoyant mouthfeel. Again, up front there bittersweet notes of dark chocolate, brown sugar, ginger, cardamom, and marzipan; and, as the cup cools, its fruity flavors—cherry bitters, dark grape, black currant—begin to flesh out. It’s not exactly a clean cup, but for its flavor profile, it doesn’t really need to have a crystalline clarity. Also, while cooling, a tangy lime acidity comes to the forefront of every sip, biting the tip of the tongue and flowing down the sides and center through a clean finish; and the more it cools, the more lively and effervescent (almost bordering on a Sprite-like flavor) the coffee becomes.
A lot of times a lime acidity is an indication of an underdeveloped roast and is viewed as a flaw. In the case of Halfwit Coffee’s Rwanda Kanzu, however, it’s definitely an asset. It’s the thing that really put this coffee over with me.
As I was drinking it immediately post-brew I was thinking Yeah, this is a pretty tasty coffee—dark chocolate, baking spices, brown sugar… Nothing too unfamiliar for a Rwandan cup, though the marzipan and gingerbread flavors offered a nice complexity. When that lime acidity hit, though, it really made the coffee pop; it gave it an extra dimension of complexity—bright, tangy liveliness—that wasn’t there before.
*content courtesy of Halfwit Coffee Roasters
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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.