This…is a very late review. It’s not for lack of wanting!
I’ve been curious about Rwanda Bean for quite some time. The roaster first caught my eye for being a lesser-known origin in a sea of Colombian and Brazilian coffees. It proceeded to hold my attention for being up front about their efforts to equalize pay for coffee farmers. Their site states each bag of coffee sold sees 50% going back into farmer pockets, alongside the ability to fund farmers’ health insurance through coffee subscriptions.
Now that is something I don’t usually see. Oftentimes roasters and roaster-cafe hybrids stick to generic buzzwords of transparency and the occasional certification. Over the years I’ve found myself increasingly disillusioned with the usual approach of the coffee industry, which means outliers stand out all the harder.
If you’re thinking of getting into single-origin decaf coffee — and decaf coffee in general — check out my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series. I’ve got Ethiopian, Mexican, Colombian, Brazilian, and Peruvian origins, just to name a few.
What does Rwandan coffee taste like? Let’s take a look:
Rwanda Bean’s Amahoro Decaf is from…where else? Rwanda! This is an origin I don’t see all that often in coffee portfolios, even ones that focus on African coffee.
Ethiopia and Kenya are easily the best-known African coffee origins, with the former dubbed the actual origin of coffee. I’ll occasionally see Burundi or Uganda, as well, and have found myself very curious about Tanzanian coffee. That said, it isn’t because of lackluster beans. Rwandan coffee goes for a quality over quantity approach that resonates with millions of drinkers around the world.
It’s especially interesting most Rwandan coffee uses the bourbon variety. Despite delicious results, they’re an especially finicky coffee plant with low yields. Compare it to castillo, which is a durable variety that’s more pest and rust resistant than most.
Rwanda Bean is a small-batch roaster in Portland, Maine.
I loved reading this recent interview with Rwanda Bean‘s founder, Mike Mwenedata. Born in Rwanda, he studied business administration in the States and decided to apply his knowledge to the coffee industry. Alongside delicious single-origin coffee, the business also sells a variety of handcrafted merchandise such as traditional woven bowls.
The roastery is recently celebrating a milestone of paying for the retirement of one of their oldest farmers, Agnes, who’s been in the business for sixty years. Reading this had me swaying in my seat a little. Sixty years. That’s twice as long as I’ve been alive.
Overall, I was fascinated (and a little vindicated) reading up on this roastery. Farmers with actual printed names? More specific statements on where the money is going and how? More of this, coffee industry.
Less is more! Rwanda Bean‘s single-origin decaf coffee goes for a bold black-and-gold that, if you know anything about my tastes, I’m very fond of.
The coffee packaging uses shiny gold font on a matte black, with the only other color the bright sticker detailing the coffee. It lists flavor notes, the origin, and the roasting location. The back of the bag explores the ongoing goals of Rwanda Bean: bringing people together and evening out the very bumpy, very exploitative coffee supply chain.
The bag proceeds to specify the type of beans on the table: bourbon Arabica grown in Rwanda’s legendarily volcanic soil. The bourbon coffee variety is one I’m enjoying the opportunity to try more of. While it doesn’t produce a lot of cherries, it does produce a sweet, syrupy, and full-bodied result.
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Holy crap. This coffee aroma is so strong it practically manifested into physical form. I hadn’t even opened the box and I could smell the dulcet aroma as powerfully as if the beans were brewing in front of me.
My roommate even exclaimed, “Woah, I can smell that from here!” Hats off to you, Rwanda Bean.
I’m not sure what the roast level of this coffee is, but I would guess a medium. The mouthfeel ranges from smooth to very creamy and soft.
The flavor notes are simple, but that never deters me. Just like I specialize in communication and visual arts, sometimes coffee specializes in one or two flavors.
While the bag had been roasted a few weeks prior — older than I usually receive — it didn’t impact the flavor too much. The pourover was the most forgettable of the three brewing methods, mild and plain and lacking any fruity sweetness. The French Press, on the other hand, boasted a fantastically creamy and soft mouthfeel. It had a unique, herbal flavor, either alone or with milk and sugar.
The Moka pot is on the other end of the extreme, boasting an earthy tartness that also reminded me of fresh herbs. It’s a flavor I sat down and thought about for a few straight minutes, trying to pin it down.
I was bowled over by the aroma well before I opened the bag, which is a great first impression.
While the pourover wasn’t anything I’d sing about, the French Press and Moka pot were fantastic. This was clearly a coffee that needed a stronger mouthfeel to showcase its personality. The aroma is the stuff of dreams, on the level of my past favorites like Counter Culture Coffee. All in all, a solid coffee with a lot to say.
Fans of aromatic and herbal coffee will have a lot to enjoy here. Sweeter coffee fans looking for fruitier or more tart results, on the other hand, might be better off looking elsewhere.
I’m very curious to see the other decaf they add in the future. Until then, you can try the Amahoro Peace Decaf for yourself and find Rwanda Bean at their site here.
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