Twitezimbere | Rwanda | Filter
We Nitrogen Flush all of our coffee when bagging for an inert shelf stable environment by locking freshness inside for up to 6 weeks prior to opening
Producer: 32 small smallholder producers from around Remera Washing Station
Mill: Remera Washing Station
Owner: Buf Coffee
Region: Gasaka Sector, Nyamagabe District, Southern Provinence
Varietal: Red Bourbon
This coffee was produced by 32 small holder producers who farm coffee in the high hills surrounding Remera washing station, located in the Gaseke Sector of Nyamagabe District, in Rwanda’s Southern Province. The farmers are members of the Twitezimbere Farmer’s Group, a small association of producers who deliver coffee to Buf Coffee company, who own and manage Remera along with three other washing stations. Most washing stations in Rwanda receive cherry from hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of farmers who own very small plots of land. Separation of such tiny lots is expensive and impractical, so the large majority of coffees are processed as a mixed lot from multiple producers.
The farmers who make up the Twitezimbere group come from a nearby village called Nyabubare. Recently they banded together and made the decision to process and market their coffees separately as a smaller, more selected lot. The group also provide each other with invaluable support, by sharing resources and labour during the busy harvest period. They named their association Twitezimbere, which roughly translates to ‘we work together for development’ in the local Kinyarwanda language.
To distinguish their coffee and ensure it is processed separately, the producers have organised to deliver cherry to the washing station on certain days of the week. Selling their coffee as a separate lot allows them to directly benefit from any higher prices paid specifically for their coffees (rather than these profits being shared equally amongst all contributing producers) and results in a higher income to support their families. This creates an effective incentive for the farmers to work as a collective towards achieving the very best quality.
This coffee was processed at Remera washing station, which was established in 2007 and is the largest of Buf’s washing stations, servicing about 722 local coffee farmers. The washing station sits at 1,953 meters above sea level in the high, rugged mountains of Rwanda’s Southern Province. The area surrounding the washing station has mineral-rich soil and a lush environment that is well suited to specialty coffee production.
Quality control and day-to-day operations at Remera are overseen by station manager, Alexis Dushimimana, who is assisted by Head of Quality Control, Esther Ingabire. Together, they ensure that the coffee is harvested and processed with care and that production standards are kept at the highest possible level. Remera provides jobs for 60-80 people during the peak harvest and staffs seven permanent positions. At the end of each season, any surplus profits are shared with the producers and washing station managers.
Buf Coffee was founded in 2000 by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, a pioneering businesswoman and a source of inspiration to countless other female entrepreneurs in Rwanda’s coffee community, and beyond. Buf is owned and operated by Mukashyaka – known to all as Ephiphanie – and her son, Samuel Muhirwa, who has taken an active role in the day to day operations of the business. The word ‘Buf’ is derived from ‘Bufundu’ and refers to the former name of the region in which all of their washing stations are located.
Epiphanie’s story is one of great resilience and fortitude. After losing her husband and a child during the horrific 1994 genocide, Epiphanie was faced with the responsibility of independently caring for and rebuilding a life for her seven surviving children. With limited education and little money or support, Epiphanie – whose husband was a coffee farmer – decided to focus on coffee as a means to a better and more stable livelihood. By participating in the USAID-financed program, Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL), Epiphanie began to learn more about specialty coffee propagation and processing. This transformational program aimed at switching the focus of Rwandan coffee production to quality, rather than quantity, and thereby ending reliance on the notoriously volatile coffee commodity market. Rather, farmers were given access to far higher-earning specialty coffee market. The program and its successor, Sustaining Partnerships to Enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development (SPREAD), have been invaluable in helping in assisting Rwanda’s small scale coffee farmers to rebuild their production in the wake of the genocide, and the world coffee crash of the 1990’s.
Words, Photos & Sourced by Melbourne Coffee Merchants.