Rwanda, Fugi Lot N19
RWANDA, FUGI Lot. N19Producer: Baho Coffee / Emmanuel Rusatira
Location: Nyaruguru District, Southern Province
Variety: Red Bourbon
Process: Natural Anaerobic
Altitude: 1550 – 1850 MASL
Crop Year: 2021
Tasting Notes: Fresh Cherries, Red Grape, Strawberry, Hibiscus
FUGI WASHING STATION
At Fugi, producers bring their cherries to the washing station by bicycle, on foot, or to the central collection site. Fugi is equipped with two drying shelters, which provide shade to rest and sort the coffee beans, immediately after washing. The following day, the coffee moves to the drying beds where sorting continues by hand, every day of the drying process, to ensure all defects are removed. To get the coffee to a stable 11.5% moisture content, the coffee is dried with direct sunlight. If the sun is too hot, the beans are covered with penetrable sheets, although Fugi knows a very stable temperature curve throughout the year. At this station, we experiment with different processing methods so as to push boundaries and improve our understanding and skills. This station is known to produce very clean, and vibrant coffees.
Fugi is quickly becoming a favorite of many roasters in the Baho network, producing consistently excellent washed and natural lots. Located in the Southern Province of Rwanda, it is nestled between the Nyungwe National Forest and the border of Burundi. It’s the second smallest station in the Baho collection, purchasing cherry from approximately 950 smallholder farmers in total. This washing station produces approximately 900 bags of exportable specialty grade coffee each year. Fugi was built in 2013, but it was purchased by Emmanuel in 2016. Since then, he’s dedicated this station to solely producing specialty grade coffee. Together with Bugoyi, Fugi is a key part of the foundation upon which i launched Baho Coffee operations. On average, producers bringing coffee to Fugi manage around 600 trees, with a median cherry yield per tree of 3kg - these equals about one and a half exportable bags of green coffee per producer. This figure perfectly exemplifies just how small the average producer is in Rwanda, and it gives some context as to why they are selling to washing stations rather than developing their own costly wet and dry mills. Fugi employs 70 people at the peak of the season - there are rotating seasonal/part time workers in addition to a core staff. As part of standard Baho practice, the pension for all workers is paid for them on top of their wages.
Processing at Fugi Washing Station The initial steps for each process are the same: First, a day of intensive sorting at the cherry stage, under complete shade, to ensure only the ripest are chosen and any visible defects are removed. Step two is multiple rounds of floating - filling a large container with cherries and water, discarding the less dense cherries that float to the top of the tank. The densest coffees (sinkers) are reserved to be processed as the higher-grade lots, and the less dense coffees (floaters) are mixed in with the rejected cherries from the initial sorting to be processed as lower grade lots. It’s expected that cherries are delivered to stations, on average, between 2 to 3 hours from picking. The following morning, coffee cherries are spread out onto raised beds to begin the drying process. The natural processed lots were, after controlled anaerobic /Lactic fermentation, dried in a brand new parabolic drying structure that was built at Fugi earlier in the 2021 season. Within this greenhouse, coffees are completely protected from rain and harsh, direct sunlight. The goal is for cherries to be a single layer on the beds, maximum 2 - 4 cm of depth. Each station has calculated exactly what volume will fit perfectly on their sized tables to achieve this. For the first 5 days, the coffee is turned every hour. From day 5 to day 20, coffee is turned every 2 hours. From day 20 - 50, the coffee and ambient temperature are strictly monitored to keep the rate of drying slow and controlled. Temperature is recorded throughout the day - if it exceeds certain thresholds, workers will focus on turning coffee more frequently and/or cover the beds with mesh netting. This focus on extremely thin layers, coupled with frequent turning and temperature monitoring, is to ensure that the flavors remain clean and free from over-fermentation or mold defects. When the moisture content reaches 11.0%, the drying phase is considered complete. The dried cherry is bagged and stored in a dry warehouse until time for milling. Total drying times for natural process coffee is around 50 - 55 days.