Our latest limited release coffee from Rwanda is truly stunning. This is our first time working with Sundog Trading, and we are so excited for this coffee, and future coffees from this region.
Ngoma is a newer station in the Baho Coffee lineup. It’s located in the famed Nyamasheke district and set in one of the most stunningly beautiful locations, directly on the shores of Lake Kivu. 780 farmers deliver to this station, which translates to around 575 bags of exportable green coffee each season.
The station was previously independently owned; but counted as their primary client, a major multinational buyer - one who is notorious for paying low prices for parchment coffee and even pressuring the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) into lowering the national farmgate price for their own benefit. This eventually led to the owner of the station deciding to sell. Rather than see the multinational purchase it, they contacted Emmanuel Rusatira and chose to sell to Baho instead.
Emmanuel has big plans for Ngoma, such as focusing on experimental processes and building a guest house on the property. We were anxiously waiting to try samples last season, as Emmanuel had been talking very highly of the area, the condition of the station, and the quality of coffee from surrounding producers. In fact, a coffee from Ngoma placed in the Cup of Excellence competition many years ago!
As is standard practice for Baho-owned stations - training, inputs, and substantial contributions towards health insurance premiums are provided for all farmers delivering. Each station has an agronomist on site that organizes training sessions focused on topics such as coffee plant care (fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, etc), importance of our traceability efforts, and environmental protection. Various inputs like fertilizers and new coffee seedlings are provided free of cost to all farmers. Baho is involved a step further here as well - helping farmers with transportation to gather materials and lending tools/equipment when necessary.
In Emmanuel’s words:
"Why was I motivated to buy Ngoma: To be honest, this is my best ever coffee washing station (cws), with good view and romantic attractions in Rwanda. It is located on shores of Kivu Lake with multiple options to connect with islands and other cherry collections sides. It is a very quality potential area, and in the ongoing Rwanda coffee appellation project, this cws is selected because it has a unique profile that might be only found in hills around this cws."
The 2021 Ngoma Low Oxygen Natural is not a specific lot separation from Baho’s appellation project; rather, it was originally offered as a classic station level blend from different areas surrounding Ngoma. Nonetheless, because of Baho’s extremely detailed cherry collection records, we were surprised to verify that this offering consists solely of coffee delivered from a single farmer - Augustin Ndateba.
The 2021 Ngoma Low O2 lot was fermented like this for a period of 72 hours. In today’s specialty coffee vocabulary, Baho’s experimental fermentations would be considered a form of anaerobic natural processing. However, because all fermentation is in fact considered to be anaerobic by definition, we like to refer to this process more specifically as a low oxygen whole cherry fermentation.
The goal here is to create a unique environment in which the cherries have very limited interaction with oxygen, but the environment is not 100% free of oxygen during the entire process. As fermentation takes place, carbon dioxide is released and progressively pushes oxygen out of the plastic tanks. The particular environment created changes both the rate of fermentation and the specific yeast and bacteria present. In our personal sensory experience, we’ve found that the low oxygen whole cherry fermentations always promote high intensity and complexity of fruit flavors and sweetness in the coffee.
Once the fermentation period is complete, cherries are turned out onto raised drying beds for drying. Cherries are spread out in a single layer on the beds, maximum 2 - 4 cm of depth, and turned frequently throughout the drying stage. Specifically for Baho’s low oxygen coffees, they utilize unique techniques to drastically stretch out the total drying times. At 20% moisture content, the cherries are covered with mesh netting for a period of 5 days before being opened again to full sun. At 15% moisture content the cherries are moved under complete shade for a period of 5 days before being opened again to the full sun. Both steps are thought to alter the rates of drying in a way that promotes more fruit flavor and complexity in the final product. When the moisture content reaches the target 10.5 - 11 %, the drying phase is then considered complete. The dried cherry is bagged and stored in a dry warehouse at Ngoma until time for milling. Total drying time for the 2021 Ngoma Low Oxygen Natural is 80 days.
Flavor Notes - Kiwi, Strawberry, Guava, Milk Chocolate
Producer - Augustin Ndateba
Region - Bushekeri Sector, Nyamasheke District, Western Province
Variety - Red Bourbon
Process - Low Oxygen Natural
Altitude - 1500 - 1850 masl