Monday, June 13, 2011

Rwandan Coffee

I've seen the coffee plants around town ripening lately and farmers harvesting the berries. This has sparked my interest in coffee and drinking coffee. So I've been asking around about it.

Here's how it's made as I understand it:

Farmers collect the berries when most of the berries are red. The riper the berries the better the coffee, but usually it's a mix of red and green berries since they all ripen at different times. Next, the farmers peel the pulp off of the berry. It can be done quickly with a machine, but is not hard to do by hand. The mucilage covering the bean is removed using different methods, one of which is fermentation. This leaves a green coffee bean, which is then dried and roasted to make the final product.

But despite seeing people harvesting coffee in my area, I never see coffee in the local market. It seems that in Mibirizi there is not enough demand for coffee to justify processing it locally. Instead, farmers harvest the beans and ship them to a processing plant where it is made into a 'rich people food.' Apparently, Japan imports a lot of Rwandan coffee.

If the people in Rwanda wanted it, they could have coffee available locally. But I think the farmers can make more money selling the beans to processing plants than they could selling a product locally. So instead of fresh brewed coffee, I started drinking Nescafe with powdered milk in the morning. It's quicker anyway.

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