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Intro

Dukunde Kawa cooperative, newly certified Organic and Rainforest Alliance on top of their Fair Trade certificate, has been a favorite around the Royal offices for a long time. It also has important personal connections for many here at the Crown.

Senior Royal Coffee Trader Jeri Idso and Richard Sandlin, our General Manager, visited the group in 2012. At the time, Richard was still working with Fair Trade USA, and made the journey with Sprudge. In the decades after Rwanda’s genocide in 1994, Fair Trade and other aide groups took a chance on coffee as a mechanism for stimulating economic growth and restoring livelihoods. Not every bet paid off… but Dukunde Kawa has stood the test of time, in no small part thanks to the trust and support of agents like USAID and FTUSA.

Evan Gilman also paid a visit during the harvest last year, observing their processing practices and reporting on social enterprises in a recent travelogue. He noted that the cooperative’s premier community program invests in its members through the gift of a calf, which can be raised to provide both sustenance for the member, milk to be sold back to the cooperative, and can be bred as well.

It should come as little surprise, then, that the coffee is delicious as well—a testament to the hard work, longevity, and sustainable practices that stand as the definition of what Dukunde Kawa is. Characterized by a complex sweetness (flavors of caramel and butterscotch top the list), this coffee from the cooperative’s Mblima washing station also has a lovely Rooibos character and a lilt of citrus without being overly acidic. It’s a well-balanced cup, suitable for many applications and undeniably enjoyable. We’re both pleased and proud to share it once again for a limited time as a 10kg Crown Jewel.

Green

Much like other great coffees from Rwanda and Burundi, this coffee is triple washed. The practice involves a pre-fermentation water flotation to sort underripe or damaged cherries out. Pulping and fermentation are followed by the second wash, which separates the coffee by density again. Finally, the coffee is soaked in clean water overnight prior to moving to raised bed drying tables where it will be closely attended by washing station employees who turn the drying parchment coffee with regularity and are ready at a moment’s notice to cover the fragile beans with waterproof tarps in case of a sudden seasonal rainshower.

This batch from Dukunde Kawa is high in density and rather low in moisture with a low water activity. Its screen size falls mostly in the 16-18 range, making it a little larger and better sorted than the average Rwandan offering. Just another example of how Dukunde Kawa continues to go above and beyond with regard to quality.

Taste

Probatino

First thing that needs to be said is that the Rwanda Musasa is an excellent coffee that I have had the pleasure of roasting throughout my career. Seeing it arrive on the landed coffees table always brings a smile to my face.It has been a week of experimentation and teaching here at The Crown working with new roasting lab assistants and we really put this coffee through its paces.

Our first roast was extremely short and packed with heat through the entire roast and this coffee didn’t even break a sweat. The heat was increased after turnaround, then again increased midway between yellow and first crack. This excess of heat gave us an extremely fast roast and a very high rate of change compared to most roasts that we publish. The roast had so much energy that the end temperature was 418F with only 1:07 of post crack development time with an increase of 18F in that time from first crack.

Roast two had much more control and while it looks like a long drawn out roast in comparison, it is still a short roast for the probatino at a total time of 7:35. We decided to use the same charge temperature, but reduce the heat dramatically, increasing the heat at yellowing from 2 gas to 2.5 gas. Realizing that we were just a little gun shy because of our previous roast, we calculated as a team where this small heat adjustment would take us and decided to turn the heat up to 3.5 gas. This helped us avoid stalling the roast before first crack. After first crack at 6:36 we reduced the heat to 3 gas and finished the roast with 1:00 of post crack development time, but ending with a temperature of 406F.

On the cupping table Roast one tasted remarkably well and was a beautiful balance of tart cherry and cranberry with a vanilla and fudge sweetness. Roast two was very bright and juicy with a sweet orange and even some lovely floral notes. The sugar browning flavors were less developed with notes like butterscotch and almond candies. This coffee is a true all-star and will be able to handle anything you bring to the table. I hope you get the opportunity to roast this delicious coffee.

Behmor

Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.

I had the good fortune of visiting the Dukundekawa Musasa Mill and Washing Station last year, and found it to be an incredibly well organized, clean, and efficient setup run by people who truly care about their product. Perhaps that sounds like it should be a given, but you can really tell when people take pride in their work, and that’s exactly the feeling I got when I visited. You can read about my trip to Rwanda and Burundi in my recent blog posting.
Good milling and post-harvest practices made this an easy coffee to roast, and a very enjoyable one to drink as well. For this roast, I took my standard approach of applying 100% heat until first crack, and engaging P4 immediately upon first crack. The big difference here was that in order to abate some smoke from the roasting chamber, I opened the door for 5 seconds at 11:25. I finished the roast at 11:50 after 1:10 of post-crack development. Crack was very strong on this coffee, and you’ll definitely need to clean the chamber thoroughly afterwards because there’s a good amount of chaff.

On the cupping table, we found tons of sugars – apricot, brown sugar, raisin, and cherry. Of course, I tend to roast coffees with sugars in mind and this one was no different. But those stonefruit notes came through regardless.

Perhaps it’s the beautiful growing conditions in this area of Rwanda that make the coffee so good. Perhaps some of the sweetness of the people who made this coffee came through in the cup as well. If you’re reading this, thank you Emerithe and Azarias!

Origin Information

Grower
Dukunde Kawa Cooperative
Variety
Bourbon
Region
Musasa, Gakenke District, Rwanda
Harvest
March - June
Altitude
1500 – 2000 meters
Soil
Volcanic loam
Process
Fully washed and dried in raised beds
Certifications

Background Details

Rwanda Musasa Mbilima Dukunde Kawa Triple Washed Crown Jewel is sourced from family owned farms organized around the Mbilima mill located near a gorilla habitat in the Gakenke district of Rwanda.  Farmer plots are so small that measurements are based on the numbers of trees, not area of land. Farmers who process their coffee at the Mbilima mill are members of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative, which started in 2000 with enough funds to build one wet mill.  In the following years, the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative has built three more wet mills(including the Mbilima mill) and completed construction of their own dry mill. More than 80 percent of the cooperative workforce is women, and producer-members have used earnings to improve their standards of living with investments in livestock, access to healthcare, and programs to protect the environment, which won the SCAA 2012 Sustainability Award.  The quality of the coffee is also internationally recognized, consistently placing as one of the best in the Cup of the Excellence auction each year.