Process: Fully Washed
Producer: Virunga Coffee Company, Hutwe washing station
Country: Democratic Republic of Congo
Roast Profile: Medium
Flavour Notes: blackberry, chocolate, cherry
This bourbon variety, specialty coffee, comes from Kirumba, Nord-Kivu near Virunga National Park in Eastern DR Congo. The coffee is organic certified, grade Kivu 3 (15+).
Hutwe Coffee Washing Station (CWS) is one of 5 washing stations belonging to Virunga Coffee Company, set up by Schluter in 2012 to produce high-quality coffees for the specialty market and increase premiums for the thousands of smallholder farmers in the region. The strategy for Virunga has been three-fold: 1) To increase production through good agronomic practice 2) to improve quality through education and strict guidelines for production and processing
3) to obtain internationally recognized certification to generate better revenue for farmers.
Virunga has now trained over 2,300 farmers in GAP (Good agricultural practices) and obtained organic certification for these farmers in the Isale region. In addition, they have seven full-time field officers (trained agronomists) working in the region and have planted over 400,000 seedlings to be distributed amongst the smallholders in Isale.
Ripe cherries are delivered to the wet mill for careful sorting and pulping before fermentation for 18 - 24 hours, depending on the climatic conditions. Once the mucilage is broken down sufficiently, the coffee is thoroughly washed in clean water channels and graded by bean density before being dried in the sun on raised African beds for 12 - 18 days, depending on conditions, until the ideal moisture level has is reached. The parchment coffee needs to be raked and turned periodically to ensure a consistent drying process and prevent mould or over-fermentation. The coffee is covered at midday to protect it from the hot sun. It is covered again at night to protect it from rainfall and moisture. Once the coffee has dried to the right level, it is transported to Butembo for dry-milling, grading, sorting and hand-picking (triage) before being bagged in GrainPro bags for export.
Hutwe village is located in the Kirumba region of Nord-Kivu (North of Lake Kivu), on the edge of Virunga National Park, bordered by Uganda to the east. The region has excellent conditions for specialty arabica production with plentiful rainfall, high altitude and highly fertile volcanic soils. However, the region is impoverished and lacks infrastructure, making high-quality arabica both difficult to produce and very challenging to export. Virunga Coffee Company has sought to overcome many of these problems through hands-on farmer education and investment in local infrastructures such as roads and bridges. This has allowed quality improvements every season and, in turn, higher premiums for farmers.
—Olam Specialty Coffee