What a beautiful coffee station. This was the first station that MTCo built here in Rwanda.
As I write this, we're been an hour or so on the road after leaving Kilimbi. I'm the only one in the car who's awake, other than Gaudam, who is driving - thank goodness he's awake.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a ribbon cutting ceremony, for the first Canadians to visit here at Kilimbi. I had the honour of cutting the ribbon, a first for me! As I was taking that honour, all of the people who work at the station were singing and dancing to welcome us. It seems pretty engraved in the culture as a welcoming.
We danced with them, tried a little singing ourselves, laughed and thanked them - murakoze cyane, murakoze murakoze.
Similar to Rugali, early today, we toured the 130-ish drying beds and saw all levels of coffee and processing. Here too, they're doing naturals, honeys and washed, and a little experiment we were trying - mentioned in the last post.
Once we finished hiking through the beds, we were given an exercise. We were given the task of ikinimba, which is the dance and song used during processing - again, mentioned in the last post.
We rolled up our pants, took off our boots, washed off our feet and jumped into a big container of freshly pulped coffee. The four of us were lead through the chants and dance by the four men who were in charge of this throughout the season. After about five minutes of jumping and pumping and singing, we were feeling the workout. Somehow these guys do this all day, everyday. Pretty amazing.
From there, we released a container that was done earlier in the day, into washing channels, and again participated in this exercise. We were given long wooden sticks with planks on the end and our task was to push the coffee up the channel as water and gravity sent it against us. The purpose of this stage is to sort the coffee by density. These channels are slightly slanted, and the lightest coffee will float and travel to the end, while the heaviest, most dense coffees stay toward the top. Again, physically exerting, and very admirable watching these guys sing and keep their energy through this portion of processing.
We rinsed our feet, got our boots back on and honestly needed a break. From there, we had a few more quality control stages explained to us. We were super impressed. We shared our input and feedback where we could, but overall, we really impressive.
We shared some insights we've seen from other sourcing countries. Exchanged ideas for new processing techniques or tweaks to current methods - this is Murahos second season, so they're very open to this sort of conversation. We're super keen on that sort of thing too!
As we were leaving, everyone congregated again to sing and dance and send us off in high spirits. It obviously worked, as I felt it necessary to write this right away.
As mentioned in the last post about Rugali, I'm really excited to share the coffee of Kilimbi with everyone back home.
At this point, we're half way through the drive back to Kigali, and I'm going to tune back into the jaw-dropping views.
Thanks for reading!
Aerial vantage of Kilimbi Coffee Washing Station. The body of water is Lake Kivu.
Separating the coffees using water and gravity into different density levels. An exercise we had the opportunity to participate in.
Sorting of the coffee cherries after picking. Uniform red cherries is the goal.