Did you know that there’s a picturesque little Island just off the shore of Lake Kivu in Rwanda…? And, what’s more, there are farmers who happen to grow coffee there!
The lake itself sits at around 1,600 meters above sea level, which is prime coffee growing elevation. They exclusively grow the Bourbon varietal here and process all the coffee at their own washing station. Needless to say, all the things that make great coffee are in place here.
Gishawama Island has over thirty five thousand coffee trees planted with environmental harmony in mind. This farm is in transition to becoming certified organic and is currently farmed with organic farming practices among forestry that provides a level of shade much greater than most other typical African coffees. Also, by nature of Gishamwana’s isolation from other coffee plantations, many of the other natural coffee diseases and pests that affect Rwandan coffees don’t really affect those grown on the island.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Rwanda Gishamwana, from Lineage Roasting in Orlando, Florida, courtesy of Craft Coffee. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: Gishamwana Island, Rwanda
farm: Gishamwana Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1500 – 1600 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Rwanda Gishamwana is a real delight. Fragrant and perfumed with soft floral aromatics, citrus, and honey.
Goodness. As I take my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is greeted by a really complex coffee; both in terms of mouthfeel and flavor profile. A very thin coating of muscovado and raw honey spreads over the palate, but what I’m more impressed by is the incredibly effervescent—bubbly, even—mouthfeel of the coffee that is characterized by incredible flavors of white grape, raisin, and peach. These flavors and the mouthfeel are really reminiscent of a champagne or sparkling white wine. The flutter of perfumey violet, lavender, and bergamot throughout the finish make the coffee all the more unique.
As the coffee cools, the effervescence calms a bit and the coffee becomes silky; this is with particular thanks to the floral elements. I’m also tasting a deluge of fruits and herbs as the cup progresses: raisin, cranberry, plum, and juicy blood orange pair up with really unique flavors of bergamot, clove, cascade hops, and Earl Grey tea leaves, which results in a slight astringency throughout the finish.
Medium body; effervescent mouthfeel; tartaric acidity; astringent finish.
To summarize, this coffee is like whoa.
Lineage Roasting’s Rwanda Gishamwana was an exceptional coffee that dazzled the palate from the very first sip. Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, I certainly wasn’t expecting what I got.
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.