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Deep in a valley down a hillside from the village of Musasa in the Northern District’s Gakenke region sits the Rushashi washing station, the focal point of the Abakundakawa Cooperative. Abakundakawa means “People Who Love Coffee” in Kinyarwanda and we think the love of coffee is evident in the consistent quality from this group.
The co-op began in 2005, and it currently serves around 2000 member farmers. Abakundakawa is Fair Trade Certified, and the farmers that contribute to it grow Bourbon, Jackson, and Mbezi coffee varieties. It is a functionally organic mill, though not yet officially certified; some recent Fair-Trade premiums have gone toward the acquisition of livestock for individual co-op members, which along with re-used hulls and parchment, helps contribute to the farm’s natural fertilization program. This is, for all intents and purposes, a fully organic coffee, and Abakundakawa does not purchase chemical fertilizer from the Rwandan government.
The co-op has two wet mills, but the Rushashi mill is its primary processing center, from which they export between 3 and 4 full containers of coffee each year. Abakundakawa’s Rushashi station employs a particularly long wet fermentation process – 48 hours on average – which may be part of why their coffees are so sought after. Most Rwandan washing stations ferment for only one day, and variation in fermentation length can dramatically affect the flavors that show up in the cup.
Another interesting facet of Abakundakawa is the particularly prominent role played by its women’s associations, both culturally and in terms of overall production: More than 65% of the Co-op’s total coffee is grown by women in these groups. We’re proud to support this amazing group of people, and we hope you enjoy this delightful coffee.