The Rwanda Nyarusiza washing station is one of two owned by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, an inspirational entrepreneur in the Rwandan coffee industry.
Epiphanie was widowed during the 1994 genocide but chose to stay on her family’s small coffee farm and rebuild her business. She founded Buf Café in 2003 as an intermediary that provided training to local smallholder farmers on best practices for producing better coffee. Those producers would deliver cherry to Buf Café and Epiphanie would sell that at a premium to washing stations. With a loan from the Rwandan Development Bank and assistance from the USAID-financed PEARL (Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages) project, Epiphanie was able to establish two of her own washing stations (Nyarusiza and Remera) that are now well known for putting out some of Rwanda’s best coffee, often placing in Rwanda’s Cup of Excellence competitions.
Buf Café is now managed with the help of Epiphanie’s son, Samuel Muhirwa, and continues to set a standard for great coffee production.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Rwanda Nyarusiza, from Metropolis Coffee Company in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kamegeri, Nyamagabe, Rwanda
farm: Buf Cafe: Rwanda Nyarusiza Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1700 – 1900 meters above sea level
cultivars: Red Bourbon
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Rwanda Nyarusiza is delightful, and possesses some of the complexities that make Rwandan coffee so exciting. It has a balanced sweetness—brown sugar and molasses, brown bread, cinnamon, and dark spice tea aromas.
Diving into my first few sips from the cup, this coffee is a pretty full-bodied one; one that features a lightly creamy mouthfeel. Between the first and last sip the cup doesn’t evolve all that much, honestly; the flavor profiles of the cup immediately post-brew and at room temperature are fairly identical. This coffee is sweet and dessert-like – almost decadent – with big flavors of dark chocolate, poached pears, black cherry, and vanilla cream. These flavors are accompanied by a tangy tangerine acidity and, more interestingly, dandelion and lemon grass.
I’ve had this coffee a few times now – from Counter Culture, from Heart, from Passion House, and now from Metropolis – and, each time, I brew it I get a different cup. Sure, there are common threads that run through each cup, but, overall, these are pretty different coffees from roaster to roaster and even from brew to brew.
Rwandan coffees are among the most interesting to come out of Africa; on the whole, Rwandan coffees typically have much more unique and diverse flavor profiles than many of their African counterparts. Metropolis Coffee’s Rwanda Nyarusiza is certainly no exception.
There is plenty of sweetness in this cup – dessert-like sweetness, really; almost decadent. Cocoa powder, vanilla cream, poached pears, black cherry… But it also features a vegetal bitterness with those unique dandelion and black tea flavors.
I’m glad I found this one at my local shop. If you’re anything like me and enjoy interesting and complex coffees, this is probably the right one for you.
*content courtesy of Metropolis Coffee Company
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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.