Bright aroma of cherries. Flavors of citrus fruits, lemon and bergamot. Medium body with an elegant and lasting aftertaste.
Coko (CHO-co) washing station is located in the highest parts of the Gakenke District and run by the small, mainly female Twongerekawa Coko cooperative. Coffee from Coko is from an unusually high altitude (2000+ masl), which translates into slowly ripened, juicy beans that have both a typically Rwandan black tea-like finish and sweet taste notes of ripe citrus.
The mission of Twongerekawa is to alleviate poverty among the 800+ smallholder farmers in the area, with a special focus on women. Their professional and agronomic background has inspired them to use a water-saving Colombian machine washer rather than more conventional fermentation methods. Even though Coko is located high up in the mountains where running water is expensive – it is now able to rely fully on naturally collected mountain water for its fermentation and is in the process of obtaining full organic status. Their expertise has also allowed them to train smallholders to increase and improve their yields, and Coko is thus able to collect over 300 tonnes of high grade coffee from small plantations all around the washing station. Their results in the cup have been deemed impressive (and even scored 90+) by some of the world’s most prominent roasters such as Sweet Maria’s.
Twongerekawa also holds regular meetings in which women smallholder farmers are encouraged to share ideas with the coop’s members that could contribute to better livelihoods. It is encouraging to see so many initiatives in Rwanda being directed towards women empowerment – not just from a humanitarian point of view but, perhaps more pragmatically – because equal treatment, training and ownership increases overall income for all smallholders.
This washing station is built in an area with enormous specialty coffee potential, but when we first visited it was at full processing capacity. There is not much space to expand Coko’s drying bed capacity naturally, because of the steep slopes in the area. To expand, they must invest heavily in wood and sturdy construction, which This Side Up’s premium was reserved for after the 2014 harvest season.
Altitude: 2,000 – 2,300 meters above sea level
Cultivars: Arabica Bourbon types: French Mission, Jackson, Mbirizi, Pop 3303/21
Processing: fully washed and double fermented: all coffee is hand picked, depulped, dry fermented for 12 hours, then wet fermented (18 hours), washed with mountain water, shade dried, then sun dried on raised beds.
1000 g, 250 g
Whole bean, French press, Filter grind, Moka Pot