Gitesi, Rwanda

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The sweetness of dried goji berries and candied orange is gently accented by aromas of vanilla and soft baking spice.


Around 8 years ago I first met father-and-son coffee producers, Alexis & Aime Gahizi, at a bustling cafe in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. The next day, we took the long drive out west to visit Gitesi – the coffee washing station named for the village on who’s outskirts it sits.

Since that first meeting, I’ve had the opportunity to buy coffee from the Gitesi washing station nearly every year, across different several businesses, which has been turned out to be more than simply a trusted supplier relationship – it’s become a substantial and enduring honour.

To produce the coffee we prize so highly, Aime and his team purchase cherries from around 1,800 smallholder farmers whose farms are dotted around the area that surrounds the washing station. The farmers are paid an initial amount for the cherries they deliver, and then receive a secondary payment – a kind of profit-sharing arrangement – depending on the price that the coffee ends up being sold for.

Ripe coffee cherries are sorted before de-pulping on an EcoPulper machine, calibrated to allow 70% of the fruit flesh to remain on the beans squeezed free from the skins. The beans undergo around 16-hours of dry fermentation and then a 12-hour soaking stage prior to more manual sorting and drying on raised beds for up to 15 days.

For the benefit and health of the local community, Aime has fallen back on his engineering degree and developed an elaborate filtration system that ensures the water used in processing is properly treated and restored before returning to the local water supply.

At Gitesi, the Gahizis are responsible for producing some of the most wonderful Rwandan coffees I’ve ever come across; coffees that are densely fruited yet clean, with fresh citrus highlights and back notes of sweet tobacco and baking spice. We look forward eagerly in anticipation of their arrival every year.

But our connection to Gitesi goes further than a pleasing cup. In 2015, Aime and I founded our charitable initiative — The Gitesi Project  — in an effort to bring better financial stability to the local coffee farming households. In partnership with roasters and cafes all over the world, we've raised funds to purchase dairy cows for more than 50 coffee-farming households and more recently expanded the programme to also provide health insurance for hundreds of the area's poorest farmers.

Suffice to say, coffees from Gitesi hold a very special place in our hearts for a number of reasons, not least of which how captivatingly delicious and complex they are.



Karongi, Rwanda


Alexis & Aime Gahizi


Red bourbon




May - June 2020

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