Lake Kivu is a great area in Rwanda. The climate of the lake and the volcanic soil come together in some magical way to make deep cherry fruit tones in these lovely coffees. An extra bonus for this specific coffee is that it is certified organic.
Cooperative pour la Promotion des Activities-Cafe (COOPAC) is a Fair Trade certified cooperative that began with 110 farmers in 2001 and today has over 2,200 members. COOPAC is committed to environmental and social sustainability in addition to producing high quality coffee. Waste by-products created during the coffee washing process are used as fertilizer rather than discarded into the lake, and shade trees are distributed to farmers to prevent soil erosion.
COOPAC has assisted in the construction of a school, health-care clinics, and roads and bridges in the community, and has a program to distribute cows and goats to the most productive farmers. COOPAC also provides farmers with an agricultural advisor to educate the growers about the latest production methods.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Rwanda Lake Kivu Kabirizi, from Passion House Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Lake Kivu, Nyamyumba, Rwanda
farm: Kabirizi Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Cooperative Pour la Promotion des Activites Cafe (COOPAC)
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Bourbon Mayaguez
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
certifications: Fair Trade, Organic
The aroma of the Rwanda Lake Kivu Kabirizi is so clean and sweet, and it fills my entire kitchen with fresh scents of stone fruit, salted caramel, vanilla, and nuts.
As I take my first sips of the coffee immediately post-brew, I’m taken with its sweetness but I’m more struck by some really unique savory notes up front. There are absolutely tremendous flavors of caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, and really incredible angel food cake, but there’s also this cooking spice or herb that I’m having a hard time nailing down; rosemary?, thyme?, marjoram? It’s sweet, but it’s also musty and has a bit of a spicy bit to it that pricks the taste buds. I don’t know for sure, but it’s really incredible.
As it cools off, the coffee really comes to life. Syrupy and juicy fruit flavors splash all over the palate, drowning the taste buds in flavors of passion fruit, grape jelly, strawberry, kiwi, mango, papaya, nectarine, and Fuji apple while nuts, honey, and brown sugar play out in the aftertaste of each sip.
The finish, though, is the best part of this coffee, as all of these flavors consolidate to take on the profile of an amaretto stone sour in a long lasting finish.
Full body; creamy mouthfeel; stone fruit acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
What a beautiful, unique coffee! I’ve had a few Rwandan coffees so far this year and, thus far, I have to say – the Rwanda Lake Kivu Kabirizi, from Passion House Coffee Roasters, just might be the best of the bunch.
This was a voluptuous and curvy full-bodied coffee, but it was also a bright, shimmery, and somewhat effervescent coffee. This was a flavorful and powerful coffee, but it was also balanced and ethereal. Because why should a coffee be just one thing when it can be all things to all people?
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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.