Gitesi Washing Station is a private station located in the Gitesi Sector, Kirambo Village, Karongi District in the Western Province. The Gitesi site is at 1740 meters in one of the lower areas surrounded by high ridges ranging up to 2000 meters, where coffee is grown. Gitesi was started in 2005 and has been building capacity each year. Like much of Rwanda, the coffee is Bourbon variety.
It is supplied by 1,830 farmers growing coffee in the surrounding ridges. The farmers and the station have an excellent working relationship, and are paid an additional dividend by the station at the end of the season based on quality and production.
The coffee to take home the top prize in the 2012 Cup of Excellence in Rwanda also came from Gitesi.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Rwanda Gitesi, from Tony’s Coffee in Bellingham, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Kirambo, Karongi District, Rwanda
farm/factory: Gitesi Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1740 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of this Rwanda Gitesi – I gotta be honest – doesn’t grab me. It’s a little bit musty, a little bit vegetal, a little earthy; but there are some sweet/bright scents of brown sugar, cocoa powder, and tropical fruit lurking in there, but not really coming out.
(NOTE: I brewed this coffee several times and got a different experience almost every time. If you’ve been catching up with me on Twitter lately, you’ll see that I even called my brewing abilities into question because I just couldn’t get this coffee right. So I’m going to try to accurately summate the overall experience in this review.)
Every other brew, this coffee (particularly immediately post-brew) is different than the brew before it – one day I get raw cocoa, one day I get raw potato; one day I get brown sugar, one day I get brown dirt. One constant profile running through each cup, however, is dull mustiness. It doesn’t taste like potato defect but there’s a certain amount of vegetal in this cup – potato/green pepper; then there’s its earthiness/soil taste. Now, maybe every third cup or so, I’d get a touch of brown sugar and chocolate lava cake – but “musty” was the most consistent experience.
As the coffee cools off (every time I brewed it), juicy tropical fruits bubble up from the bottom of the cup and bleed through the cracks still forming. However, considering that these fruit flavors coming forward are so tropical, they’re surprisingly subtle – not very bright, acidic, or lively; but silky, juicy, and somewhat tart. There’s a beautiful ruby red grapefruit flavor and acidity that dominates the profile, and it plays well with notes of red grape, golden raisin, currant, cranberry, caramel, and muscovado sugar.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; berry acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The Rwanda Gitesi, from Tony’s Coffee, is a bit of an odd duck. I tried cup after cup to get a really good read of it, but I just couldn’t quite figure it out. I’d get a really solid cup of coffee one day, then a less-than-solid cup of coffee the next day brewing it with the same exact parameters and technique. One day I’d get those sharp, acidic, juicy tropical fruit flavors Rwandas are famous for, the next day I’d get the musty, earthy, potato-ey, green peppery flavors that Rwandas can be victims of. And, unfortunately, the longer the bag sat on my shelf, the more pronounced and the more reliable that musty earthiness became in the cup.
Even the best Rwanda can be a crapshoot. (I don’t, however, believe that every other cup was a victim of the dreaded “potato defect.”) I mean, at it’s best – when I really had it dialed in just right – this Gitesi was a great coffee.
Sadly I won’t get the chance to play with it anymore since Tony’s swapped the Gitesi out in exchange for a Lake Kivu. I think that was a decision on their part, though. This coffee is just too finicky to get right.
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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.