Rwanda is blessed with ideal coffee growing conditions that include high altitude, regular rainfall, volcanic soils with good organic structure and an abundance of Bourbon. The vast majority of Rwandan coffee is produced by smallholders of which there are thought to be around half a million with parcels of land often not much larger than just one hectare per family. Coffee is grown in most parts of the country, with particularly large concentrations along Lake Kivu and in the southern province. Rwandan smallholders organise themselves into cooperatives and share the services of centralised wet-mills –or washing stations as they are known locally. Flowering takes place between September and October and the harvest runs from March to July with shipments starting in late May early June.
Gitwe is a newly constructed washing station, located in Nyamasheke district, one of the regions with high concentration of coffee trees and washing stations. At a very high altitude, Gitwe is surrounded by hills covered by green coffee trees, and the volcanic soil off the shores of Lake Kivu, makes this coffee some of the finest in the country. There are 800 farmers in total who are delivering to the station and this year they are expecting to produce 3 containers in total.
When RTC purchased the station last year, the plan was to process high end specialty fully washed coffee and look to experiment with the station. Cherries delivered to Gitwe are pulped right away, fermented 8-12 hours, and then sundried on raised beds for 10-15 days.