Bufcoffee – Remera CWS – Rwanda’s Finest winnerBUFCOFFEE
Bufcoffee was created by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, after her husband died in 2000. Since he was a coffee farmer, Epiphanie faced the challenge of producing coffee and raising their seven children on her own. To tackle her lack of knowledge on coffee farming, she took part in the trainings that the PEARL project (Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages, sponored by USAID) organised in Rwanda. In those trainings, she learned a great deal about coffee production and quality control. To put what she learned to practice, and created her own company: Bufcoffee.
With her company, she built a coffee washing station at Remera in the Nyamagabe district, Gasaka sector, Southern Province. Through this washing station, she wanted to improve the quality of the coffee produced in the area, produce specialty grade coffee and distinguish it from commercial production. In doing this, she put great focus on adding value to her coffee to fetch higher prices that didn’t follow coffee market fluctuations. This way, Epiphanie was the first woman in Rwanda to produce specialty coffee. Nowadays, she is a real specialty coffee celebrity and an example for many women in the industry.
Through Bufcoffee, Epiphanie managed to improve not only the living conditions of her own family, but also of many coffee producing families in the near area. Bufcoffee created job opportunities in the community and gave better prices to producers who sold their cherries at the washing station. Moreover, the company helped bring clean water and electricity to the rural community. In 2005 Bufcoffee built its second washing station at Nyarusiza, Kamegeri sector, Nyamagabe district, Southern Province. Over the years, Bufcoffee grew from servicing less than 500 producers at the start to over 3000 smallholder farmers in Nyamagabe and Huye districts nowadays. These producers as well as Bufcoffee employees regularly get trainings on Sustainable Agricultural Practices.
Coffees from Bufcoffee ranked in many Cup of Excellence competitions in Rwanda. It is one of the best-known washing station companies in the international specialty coffee market. This reputation is thanks to the deliciously fruity, floral, complex and refined coffees Bufcoffee produces, but also because of the single woman success story and her impact on the local community.
Remera central washing station
The Remera central washing station is located in the Nyamagabe district of Rwanda’s Southern Province. The farms that produce the cherries processed at Remera lie at altitudes between 1700 and 2000 meters above sea level. The wet mill itself lies at 1920m. Bufcoffee has various collection sites, so the producers don’t have to travel all the way to the station with the cherries. Trucks then take the cherries from these collection sites to the central washing station.
The cherries are sorted upon intake to take out unripe cherries. Next, they are soaked to remove floaters. Remera is equipped with a disc pulper for processing. The washing station staff pays great attention to regular maintenance of this machine to avoid damaging the beans during processing. The parchment is dry fermented and washed. Fermentation takes 9 hours. In the grading channels, the quality of this lot corresponds to A1, the highest parchment grade with the heaviest beans.
After washing, Remera applies an additional soaking of 24 hours. This ensures the parchment is free from any mucilage before it goes to the drying tables. On these raised tables, the parchment dries in thin layers. The first 24 hours, it is protected from direct sunlight. A trained team of women then further inspects the wet parchment, taking out defects. Afterwards, the parchment dries in the full sun for two to three weeks, depending on weather conditions. Once it reaches 12% humidity, the washing station staff packs the parchment in sacks for storage in Remera’s small warehouse. Here, it will rest for a couple of weeks before going to the NAEB warehouse in Kigali. At NAEB, the coffee is dry milled and prepared for export.
Rwashoscco Rwanda’s Finest
This lot was part of the Rwanda’s Finest competition that Rwashoscco organised in honour of their 10th year anniversary. All Rwashoscco member farms and washing stations could submit lots for the competition. An international jury selected the 24 best lots. Of those 24, we received a set of samples in the office. This lot from Remera stood out easily among its neighbours on the table. It has that beautifully rich, elegant and layered fruit profile you don’t find too easily in Rwanda.
The price we paid for the full lot of 17 bags was $9.1/kg. Of that amount, an initial $4.1/kg goes to the producers who sold their cherries at the Remera washing station. They will receive an additional premium of $2/kg generated from the sale in the competition. $2.6/kg is destined for the production costs of the coffee at the wet mill, and preparation for export at the dry mill. The remaining $1.22/kg is distributed between Rwashoscco and Bufcoffee. This covers the in-country administration costs plus margins. On our offer list, you’ll see you can get the coffee for around $11/kg. The additional $2/kg covers our logistics and administration cost to import the coffee to Antwerp, and insurance for the coffee.