April – Seasonal Coffee
This time of year as a coffee roaster can be tough – waiting for the seasonal coffee arrival of Central American coffee. We’ve had some pre shipment samples sent over by one of our importers, Falcon Speciality, and have chosen at least two Guatemalan lots and a brace of coffees from El Salvador. All of which are new farms for us, which makes us super excited indeed. There will be more information about these in the May post.
Until then, we’ve still got a couple of stellar examples of seasonal coffee to showcase this month. One of which is a returning favourite, Rwanda Gashonga, and a completely new farm and varietal in Brazil Rainha Da Paz which is a Rubi (hybrid between Mundo Novo and Catuai). The Gashonga will be in short supply – I only managed to secure 30 kg of Lot 4, so if you fancy trying this, get your orders in soon. The Rainha Da Paz will be around for a few months as this was bought as a component for our main espresso blend, Jones. Below is a little information on both the coffee.
Rwanda is blessed with ideal coffee growing conditions that include high altitude, regular rainfall, volcanic soils with good organic structure and an abundance of Bourbon. The vast majority of Rwandan coffee is produced by smallholders of which there are thought to be around half a million with parcels of land often not much larger than just one hectare per family. Coffee is grown in most parts of the country, with particularly large concentrations along Lake Kivu and in the southern province. Rwandan smallholders organise themselves into cooperatives and share the services of centralised wet-mills – or washing stations as they are known locally. Flowering takes place between September and October and the harvest runs from March to July with shipments starting in late May early June.
Gashonga can be found in the tiny corner of Rwanda that lies between the Congo and Burundi. It is located in the Rusizi district in the West and is made up of around 1592 members who grow their Red Bourbon coffee at approx. 1,683 metres above sea level. Once picked it is washed and sun dried on raised African beds.
Rainha Da Paz
Fazenda Rainha Da Paz is a relatively new farm having been established as recently as 2008. However, there is by no means a lack of experience since the farm is owned by the Montanari family and is managed by fourth generation brothers, Roger and Marcello. Under the watchful eye of their highly experienced coffee farming father, the brothers are pushing the boundaries of modern coffee farming in Brazil.
The Montanaris are descendants of Italian immigrants and Rainha Da Paz is located close to the town of Patrocinio in the heart of the Cerrado in Minas Gerais. The altitude averages 936 MASL though the range runs from 800 to 1,300 MASL. The farm is one of three owned by the family and the other two, Fazenda Sao Paulo and Montanari III, are located close by. Like many farms in the region, most of the tasks have been mechanised – in particular the harvesting and incredibly the three farms are run by just seven members of staff. It’s astonishing to think that a farm of a similar size as Sao Paulo (74 hectares) in a country such as Nicaragua or Guatemala, would require more than 500 people to pick the coffee during the peak of harvest. The flat lay of the land is seldom seen in other coffee producing countries and it is this factor that allows for mechanical harvesting.
Until next month’s seasonal coffee, enjoy brewing.