Crown Jewel Rwanda Mahembe Murundo Raised Bed Washed CJ1512 – LOT 1 – 29247 – SPOT RCWHSE

Price $169.07 per box

Box Weight 22 lbs

Position Spot

Boxes 33

Warehouses Oakland

Flavor Profile Plum, cherry, orange, floral, molasses, creamy

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Overview 

This is a traditional washed coffee from Nyamasheke, Rwanda, produced by 400 smallholder farmers in association with Furaha Umwizeye’s Kivubelt Murundo washing station. 

The flavor profile is silky-sweet with flavors of apricot, black tea, lemon, and salted caramel. 

Our roasters found the coffee’s lower density and moisture to benefit from a delicate touch, particularly at first crack. 

When brewed as a pour-over the coffee is at its best when leaning into the delicate side, and we recommend a lower coffee dose with a finer grind. As espresso, the coffee sings at multiple extraction profiles but also tends to be at its best with a slightly higher output with yield ratios just over 2:1. 

Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman 

Rwanda was my first sourcing assignment in Africa, and it holds a very special place in my heart as a result. Many of the people I met more than ten years ago remain regular contacts, and there’s something warm and comforting about the distinctive flavors of the coffees. 

Generally, Rwandas often strike me as the Southern Hemisphere version of a Kenya – hints of black tea, some citrus (usually orange or lemon), a touch savory… and with those soft, rounded edges and silky body – it’s a combination of flavors both familiar and unique. 

This people’s farm outturn from Murundo exhibits some of the best of the west, Rwanda’s mountainous borderlands with the breathtaking Lake Kivu. On the cupping table the coffee is gentle, mild-mannered, and very sweet. It has a soft apricot character that readily shines through strong impressions of salted caramel and hints of lemongrass. 

The delicate acidity, extra-silky mouthfeel, and high degree of sweetness cued to us that this coffee would likely make a really fun espresso… which was fortunate because the day after it was roasted, the coffee was called up to the big leagues. While true to character, under pressure and at the hands of a skilled the barista the coffee is transformed into a juicy, sweet, tart and has quickly become a customer favorite at The Crown. We regularly pick up notes of black tea, grapefruit, a heft that teeters between molasses and fudge, and the florality of a light rose water. It’s only January, but I can tell this is already going to be one of my favorite shots of the year. 

 

Source Analysis by Charlie Habegger with Chris Kornman 

One of this year’s suite of coffees from the boutique Kivubelt group in western Rwanda, PF is an outturn from the Murundo Coffee Washing Station (CWS), one of two processing sites the Kivubelt company operates. “PF” in Kivubelt’s nomenclature refers to “People Farm”, another term for smallholder coffee growers and the households they support. 

Kivubelt was established in 2011 by Furaha Umwizeye, after returning to Rwanda with a master’s degree in economics from Switzerland. Born and raised in Rwanda, Umwizeye’s goal with Kivubelt is to create a model coffee plantation, as sustainable in agriculture as it is impactful in local employment and empowerment. The company began with 200 scattered acres of farmland in Gihombo, a community in Rwanda’s coffee-famous Nyamasheke district that runs along the breathtaking central shoreline of Lake Kivu. 

Under Umwizey’s leadership, Kivubelt has planted 90,000 coffee trees on their estates, which now employ more than 400 people during harvest months and is a kind of coffee vocational school for local smallholders interested in improving their farming. Kivubelt has also acquired two washing stations, Murundo and Jarama, which combined not only process coffee from the company’s estates, but also that of more than 500 smallholders in the region, offering quality premiums and training programs for participating farming families. Lot 1 from Murundo CWS was picked across March, April, and May by the station’s participating 400 local smallholders. 

The Nyamasheke district in Rwanda is gifted in terroir. The cool, humid climates of both Lake Kivu and the Nyungwe Forest National Park keep groundwater abundant throughout the uniquely hilly region. Kivu itself is part of the East African Rift whose consistent drift creates volcanic seepage from the lake’s bottom and enriches the surrounding soils. Coffees from this region are often jammier and heavier than in the rest of the country. Murundo’s coffees in particular are full of complex sugars, currant-like acids, blackberry and spice flavors, and round, soft textures. 

The history of coffee in Rwanda is complex, at times tragic, at others triumphant. Commercial arabica coffee cultivation was introduced to the region under German colonial influence as early as 1905. After WWI the Belgians had replaced the Germans, and by 1927 were “aggressively promoting coffee production.” In 1931 they formally legitimized its forced cultivation. After independence and civil war in the early 1960s, coffee had become Rwanda’s primary source of foreign currency.  

Overreliance on coffee caused a massive crisis with devastating consequences in the years following 1989’s dissolution of the International Coffee Agreement and resulting devaluation of the crop on global markets. Faced with a cratering economy, a foreign-backed military incursion, and sparked by the death of the country’s president and the president of Burundi when their plane was shot down over Kigali, civil war and violence once again beset the country in April of 1994. Atrocities were enacted asymmetrically along ethno-political lines. 800,000 people died in less than 100 days.  

In the wake of such violence there’s little that can be said that somehow doesn’t cheapen or diminish the unmitigated tragedy of the loss of life. Yet if there’s a motif that can be held as hope in such circumstances, it’s the resilience of humanity. In the case of Rwanda, its revival happened to be aided, somewhat unexpectedly, by the very crop which had catalyzed its crisis: coffee.  

Interest in the coffee sector both locally and internationally has helped propel the country into a coffee renaissance. Rwanda, one of the most rapidly modernizing countries on the continent,has rebuilt a quality-focused coffee industry by investing in training and infrastructure, and we as buyers now have an awe-inspiring reference for how snappy, mouth-watering, and kaleidoscopic the Bourbon lineage can be.Kivubeltis one example of focused entrepreneurship aimed at a very specific landscape. 

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman 

We usually expect Rwandan coffees to be a little on the smaller side with somewhat high density and low moisture. This coffee from the farmers associated with the Murundo washing station gets two out of three. The sizing is a standard 15+ sort, a bit like classic Central American EP prep, and generally a little smaller than some regions but not especially tiny. The moisture is also nice and stable, and I’d expect similar results on water activity figures (our Rotronic is out for servicing and calibration this week). 

However, the coffee is quite modest in density, an oddity for the country and unusual for the region and for Kivubelt coffees specifically. 2022 was a boom year for coffee production in the country, which exhibits atypically exaggerated biennial cycles in harvest volumes. This, combined with the seasonal rain cycle, can often indicate a few things to buyers. 

First, with space for drying coffee at a premium even in lean years, selecting well-dried coffees is imperative, rather than accepting beans which have been rushed through the process in order to free up space for incoming coffee. Second, vetting for quality and in particular the absence of potato, are of extra high importance, as the really exceptional coffees can be fewer and farther between. Lastly, if the big volume is partly due to rain, cherries may sometimes bloat with moisture without passing nutrients along to the seed, resulting in lower density green. 

In all, roasters should look for this coffee to perform a little differently from Rwandas in years past. We recommend a slightly gentler approach throughout your roasting due to the lower density green. 

Production Analysis (featuring Diedrich IR-5 and Loring S15 Falcon) by Doris Garrido 

We start the year at The Crown with new arrivals that are now being served as espressos. The first one is this Rwanda Mahembe Murundo, tasting sweet and juicy with a balanced tartness on the mouthfeel that makes it a pleasant espresso experience. But during roast analysis it was not love at first taste, and I will explain why. 

From the first roast, I collected notes like: mild, mellow, and simple, shadowing others like tart and juicy. After roasting I got sick and I had to cup a few days later and I agreed with those tasting notes, and I also added some dry spices. Chris Kornman jumped on the Diedrich and did another roast with not much luck: cardamom, clean, low-intensity, marshmallow, plum – similar to the previous roast.  

My roast was longer at 10:41 than Chris’ at 8:25. Similar percentages of drying, yellowing, and post-crack development but with different approaches. The ColorTrack reading was really close to each other: 54.53 ColorTrack (mine) and 53.68 from the CK roast. Then the two roasts were blended and dialed in on the espresso bar, and Rwanda Kivubelt started working its juiciness. I was not expecting what I would taste the first time I tried it as an espresso shot: a creamy, juicy, sweet shot, with tart cranberry and a gently silky body. 

Now the roast has moved to a bigger batch size on the Loring S15 Falcon. Chris Kornman did a 9:25 min roast stretching the Maillard to bring out more citrusy notes from the coffee that complemented the cup much better on the cupping table. 

One of the things I did wrong before my first roast was to mess with the Sinar by moving it to different rooms with significantly different temperatures. By doing that my moisture reading was affected and ended up being inaccurate. I thought there was 12% moisture, but it ended up being 10% after resampling. I did my roast plan based on that first reading, but have learned from this mistake. 

Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman 

Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.  

Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 428F preheating, P6 power, F2 fan, and d6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing! 

The very first coffee of the new year! I was excited to roast this selection from Rwanda, especially as we had selected it from a good many lots brought to us by Kivubelt. Approaching this coffee with the numbers in the green analysis above, I saw that it was middling in moisture content, with a fair distribution in screen sizes.. but I’ll admit that I missed the lower density numbers. My first roast of this coffee reflected that, and I fairly walloped this coffee with heat further into the roast than I should have. We’ll get to that in a minute.  

I started this roast off with my high heat profile, really wanting to nail the tart acids I found in this coffee in the initial cuppings. With 437F charge temperature, P9 heat, and F2 fan ramped up to F3 at Turning Point, then dropped to F1 until peak RoR of 34F/minute this coffee was really cooking. Once I hit the peak, I increased fan back to F3, and reduced heat to P8 to begin the slow ramp down. This wasn’t reducing quickly enough for me, so I took heat application down to P7 at 318F / 3:35. I saw my traditional spike in RoR around 365F and increased my fan speed to F4 to compensate, but this coffee wanted to keep cooking due to its lower density and spiked again right into First Crack (much to my chagrin). I used P6 and F5 for the remainder of the roast and was able to get a ratio of 43% / 35% / 20% with a drop temperature of 403F at 9:47.  

The result in the cup was a bit heavy-handed in the roast department, but on cooling the cup displayed some deliciously tart hibiscus and cranberry notes. Everything about this coffee’s flavor shouted ‘red’ to me. Despite the fist sips tasting a bit roasty and haylike, even my roast left the forest honey sweetness of this coffee apparent after cooling.  

For my second roast, I took it easy. While I did start with high heat application and the same 437F charge temperature, I played the game of removing heat as the roast progressed a bit faster. This roast, like Doris’, was a touch longer as well. My ratio of 38% / 42% / 18% erred on the side of more time in Maillard, and at 10:27 and 401F, this was altogether a gentler roast with less of a spike in RoR. Dear reader, follow my second roast if you’re looking for a mellower cup with less apparent roast characteristics! 

First Roast: https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/vcIq364IMY9xBVhK5fDui 

Second Roast: https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/ooUsxBBrDMNY5UIVx2h7t 

Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Isabella Vitaliano  

Our current Ikawa practice compares two sample roast profiles, originally designed for different densities of green coffee. The two roasts differ slightly in total length, charge temperature, and time spent between color change in first crack. You can learn more about the profiles here. 

The tumultuous relationship between coffee and Rwanda date back to the early 1900’s. Despite the increasing aggression and war ladened land in late 1990s the investment in infrastructure surrounding the coffee industry has paid off. Due to Chris’s long-term partners in the country The Crown has had the opportunity to taste lots of coffee from the region and this particular coffee truly stands out from the rest. Josh, Chris, and I on further evaluation of this coffee got notes of marshmallow, plum, butter, peach and stone fruit.    

Ikawa analysis was completed with the help of Doris and Taylor. On the high density roast we got notes of caramel, citrus, butter, orange zest and stone fruit. Overall, I really enjoyed how sweet and balanced this cup was. The light density roast brought out flavors of bakers’ chocolate, lime, molasses, green tea and brown sugar. Doris and I preferred the high density roast we thought the fullness and sweetness really complimented the cup. While Taylor enjoyed the chocolate sweetness of the molasses in the light density roast. This coffee has a surprising acidity for a Rwandan coffee while maintaining its drinkability, it is sure to be a crowd pleaser. You don’t miss out on this one!  

You can roast your own by linking to our profiles in the Ikawa Pro app here: 

Roast 1: Low Density Sample Roast 

Roast 2: High Density Sample Roast   

Brew Analysis by Joshua Wismans 

Just as a bit of the excitement around fresh crop northern hemisphere starts to dim, Rwandas arrive as one of the first Southern Hemisphere African coffees, and we’re reminded of the beautiful coffees of East Africa all over again. This pristine washed coffee from Mahembe has everything we love from coffees in East Africa: beautiful citrus and stonefruit, delicate floral and spice, a touch of red wine, and black tea savory-ness.  

Our first brew explored a very standard profile for us here at The Crown. A medium grind of 9.5 on the EK43s, with a coffee to water ratio of 1:15.79 on St. Anthony’s F70 brewer. This yielded a brew with a slightly higher TDS and extraction percentage, but overall we liked what we were tasting. Apricot, green grape, black tea, and molasses shone through, but we knew there was more to explore in this coffee. 

The second brew we tried to bring up the dose but coarsen our grind. We utilized the Beehouse brewer for this approach. With the higher dose, we got some more brown sugar and dried stonefruit out of the coffee, but there was a slight wood note that we weren’t loving. 

What we ultimately settled on was a slightly lower dose with a slightly finer grind, going back to the F70.  Using a coffee to water ratio of 1:16.67 and grinding finer, we got a brew that highlighted some beautiful plum, citrus, and rose. The delicate nature of the brew balanced by a touch of savory and caramel sweetness really brought this coffee together for us. 

Our recommended brew utilizes a flat bottom brewer, a slightly finer grind, and lower coffee to water ratio. 

 

Espresso Analysis by MJ Smith

This coffee embodies the perfect winter espresso in my mind. It has a rich chocolatey body, with some zesty citrus and warm, cozy spicy notes, reminiscent of fudge brownies and hot toddies. This coffee replaced a natural processed Ethiopian coffee on our espresso bar, so it had some pretty big (and funky) shoes to fill, but it quickly proved that it was up to the challenge. Let it be noted that the coffee I’m using for this analysis is currently 6 days off-roast.  

 

Shot 1: 

Dose: 19g, Yield: 40g, Time: 34sec 

This first shot I pulled was honestly little too much on the bitter side, likely due to the high yield and longer extraction time. I’m not going to waste your time going into detail about what I didn’t like about it, so on to the next! 

 

Shot 2: 

Dose: 18.5g, Yield: 38g, Time: 30sec 

After that last shot, I decided to drop the dose a little to 18.5, slightly lower the yield, and shoot for a faster extraction time. This left me with a tasty shot with a super smooth and creamy body, and much less of that bitterness I experienced in my first shot. I picked up notes of chocolate ice cream, orange zest, anise, and molasses. While I definitely enjoyed this shot just on its own, I can’t help but imagine how delicious it would be in a mocha, or our current signature drink the JM3K, which is a spiced cherry cola espresso soda.  

 

Shot 3: 

Dose: 19g, Yield: 38, Time: 31 

For my third shot, I’m actually going to talk about the very first shot of this coffee that I tried when it first landed on our featured espresso bar last week. I came in on my day off to get some coffee and was pleasantly surprised to see a brand new espresso on the board. If you’re familiar with that warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside when you taste a really well-pulled shot of espresso, this one checked all those boxes. It was like a spiced fudge brownie with chunks of apricot and lemon zest baked inside. All-in-all, I’m very excited to have this coffee keeping us warm on espresso bar for a while. Come on down and try a shot for yourself! 

Coffee Background

One of this year’s suite of coffees from the boutique Kivubelt group in western Rwanda, PF is an outturn from the Murundo Coffee Washing Station (CWS), one of two processing sites the Kivubelt company operates. “PF” in Kivubelt’s nomenclature refers to “People Farm”, another term for smallholder coffee growers and the households they support. Kivubelt was established in 2011 by Furaha Umwizey, after returning to Rwanda with a master’s degree in economics from Switzerland. Born and raised in Rwanda, Umwizey’s goal with Kivubelt is to create a model coffee plantation, as sustainable in agriculture as it is impactful in local employment and empowerment. The company began with 200 scattered acres of farmland in Gihombo, a community in Rwanda’s coffee- famous Nyamasheke district that runs along the breathtaking central shoreline of Lake Kivu. Under Umwizey’s leadership, Kivubelt has planted 90,000 coffee trees on their estates, which now employ more than 400 people during harvest months and is a kind of coffee vocational school for local smallholders interested in improving their farming. Kivubelt has also acquired two washing stations, Murundo and Jarama, which combined not only process coffee from the company’s estates, but also that of more than 500 smallholders in the region, offering quality premiums and training programs for participating farming families. Lot 1 from Murundo CWS was picked across March, April, and May by the station’s participating 400 local smallholders. The Nyamasheke district in Rwanda is gifted in terroir. The cool, humid climates of both Lake Kivu and the Nyungwe Forest National Park keep groundwater abundant throughout the uniquely hilly region. Kivu itself is part of the East African Rift whose consistent drift creates volcanic seepage from the lake’s bottom and enriches the surrounding soils. Coffees from this region are often jammier and heavier than in the rest of the country. Murundo’s coffees in particular are full of complex sugars, currant-like acids, blackberry and spice flavors, and round, soft textures. Coffee estates like Kivubelt’s are rare in Rwanda, where coffee was originally forced upon remote communities by the Belgians as a colony-funding cash crop. The Belgians distributed varieties cultivated by the French on Ile de Bourbon (now Reunion Island, near Madagascar) but had so little invested in coffee’s success that they immediately allowed to decline through lack of investment in both infrastructure and the farmers who grew it. As a result the sector suffered near total obscurity in the coffee world from Rwanda’s independence in 1962 until the period of rebuilding following the country’s devastating civil war and astonishingly tragic genocide in 1994. Rwanda’s former cash crop, however, would roar to international buyer attention in the late 2000’s thanks to one of East Africa’s most successful coffee interventions, the Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda Through Linkages (PEARL). PEARL was a sweeping infrastructure and education investment targeting large regions of Rwanda whose coffee was for the most part processed poorly at home and exported with little traceability. The program, designed and led by the University of Michigan, Texas A&M and a host of Rwandan organizations, vastly increased processing hygiene by building washing stations. It also organized remote and under-resourced smallholders into cooperative businesses capable of specialty partnerships. Perhaps most significantly for the long term, it took the legacy bourbon genetics buried in abandon and polished them anew to the amazement of coffee drinkers everywhere. In the decade following PEARL and subsequent investments in the country’s coffee sector, Rwanda, one of the most rapidly modernizing countries on the continent, has built steadily on top of those first coffees, and we as buyers now have an awe-inspiring reference for how snappy, mouth-watering, and kaleidoscopic the bourbon lineage can be. Kivubelt is one example of focused entrepreneurship aimed at a very specific landscape.