At Omwani, our mission extends beyond importing green coffee from East Africa. We believe in fostering meaningful connections between coffee producers and roasters, facilitating knowledge exchange and supporting the development of the entire coffee ecosystem. In this blog post, we would like to share the ongoing story of collaboration and growth for our partner Rwamatamu Coffee in Rwanda.
The interactions between Rwamatamu and several of our partners, is an excellent example of how connecting coffee producers with roasters and other producers ultimately helps the overall development of their operations. Join us as we delve into the transformative journeys of these dedicated individuals and the impact they have had on each other.
Bridging the Gap: Ludwika's Journey in Burundi
Last year, we were approached by Ludwika Kopcyzinska, a talented roaster from Steampunk roastery in Scotland. Ludwika was eager to gain experience working abroad at a coffee washing station, where coffee is processed from cherries into beans. At the same time, we were aware that one of our producer partners, Migoti Coffee in Burundi, were looking to improve their quality control, and source some more coffee cupping training for their General Manager, Zephyrin Banzubaze.
We introduced Ludwika to our main contacts/the co-founders of Migoti: Dan Brose and Pontien Ntunzwenimana, and through this connection Ludwika was able to travel to Burundi, where she worked at one of Migoti’s washing stations for six weeks!
While there, Ludwika got to experience life in Burundi, from the breath-taking hills and scenery to the local markets and capital city of Bujumbura. The real treat, however, was to be found within Migoti itself: the team at there were more than welcoming, and gave Ludwika a detailed look into each stage of coffee processing: starting at the nursery of coffee seedlings, through the washing of cherries, and ending with the bags of dried green coffee.
Meanwhile, Ludwika was able to impart some teachings onto Zephyrin about how to store and maintain green coffees. Together they went through a number of cuppings, comparing the flavour notes of each lot being produced by Migoti and assessing their quality.
It was a joy for us to hear from both Miogti and Ludwika that the experience had gone so well; bridging the gap between roasters and the people who produce their coffee is one of our core missions at Omwani, and we love being able to facilitate unique connections like this one.
When Opportunity Strikes: Cupping at Rwamatamu
Earlier this year, we hosted a series of coffee cupping events with our new partners from Rwamatamu Coffee, a coffee estate and washing station in Rwanda. Bernice and Luke, who are due to take over operations at the family-run company, were staying in the UK for a few months before going back up to Rwanda for the harvesting season. This was the perfect opportunity for some of our roaster partners to meet and engage with one of our producer partners.
Rwamatamu Coffee, being fairly new to the international market, have only just invested in an on-site cupping lab. Bernice and Luke were able to get most of the equipment required using funds raised from the ticket sales of the cuppings we hosted, but they still needed training for the rest of the team at Rwamatamu.
Enter Ludwika, who showed up to our Edinburgh cupping, once again eager to be introduced to one of our partners. This was the perfect opportunity for Ludwika to visit another coffee producer, and learn of the differences in production between the neighbouring countries of Burundi and Rwanda.
On this expedition, Ludwika would be helping with the setup of Rwamatamu’s cupping lab: getting the team acquainted with preparing samples, before taking them through the practice of proper cupping protocols. It took a little while for Ludwika and the team to get calibrated with eachother’s taste descriptors, since not all the foods/spices on a typical flavour wheel are readily available in Rwanda. After a couple of days, however, everyone was on the same page, and by the end of the trip they were all agreeing on coffee flavours and quality.
Ludwika was also given the tour of Rwamatamu’s coffee state, visiting both the plants and the washing station, and thanks to her previous experience in Burundi, she was able to compare differences and even offer some insight based on what she had learned over at Migoti.
Enhancing Flavour Profiles: An Experiment in Yeast Fermentation
Ludwika was not the only one to visit Rwamatamu however, as no sooner had she left than our good friend Dave Burton had arrived. Dave is a veteran coffee roaster who has a boatload of industry experience and coffee knowledge to offer. His visit to the estate would be focused on helping the Rwamatamu team conduct an experiment in yeast fermentation.
Yeast fermentation is something more commonly associated with the winemaking industry, but in recent years has gained traction in coffee production. More specifically, producers are investigating the use of yeasts developed for the particular use of enhancing a coffee’s natural flavour profile. This is because your typical fermentation method uses native yeasts that can be unpredictable, whereas utilising a fixed strain of yeast will offer much more control and certainty in terms of the outcome.
Together, Dave and the Rwamatamu team test two different yeasts from LalCafe: Oro for a general flavour improvement, and Intenso for an enhanced fruitiness.
A Meeting of Minds: Rwamatamu and Migoti Coffee
While the experimental yeast coffees are set out to dry, the group (including Dave, Luke, and a few other team members from Rwamatamu) set off for a trip to visit Migoti Coffee in Burundi. There, the two coffee producers were able to exchange tips on operation and management, while also discussing the differences in production between Rwandan and Burundian coffee.
We were thrilled to hear that two of our partners had been able to connect this way. Rwamatamu had a brilliant debut on the international market this last year, and can only benefit from the years of experience that the Migoti team bring to the table.
These experiences shared between Ludwika, Migoti Coffee, and Rwamatamu Coffee are just a glimpse of the incredible stories we can create using a more open and collaborative approach to coffee sourcing. Together, we can build a sustainable and thriving coffee industry, one rooted in trust, sharing, and genuine relationships. Let us cultivate a future where every sip of coffee tells a story of empowerment and appreciation for the remarkable people who make it possible.