FEATURED: Kayonza buoyed by new state of the art coffee cupping lab

Women farmers and officials gesture in a group photo after the unveiling of the coffee cupping lab in Kayonza District. / Photos: Joseph Mudingu

Women coffee farmers grouped under Twogere Umusaruro Cooperative can now test the quality of their coffee even before it is sent to Kigali thanks to the new state of the art coffee cupping lab that has been built at their coffee washing station.

The infrastructure will enable coffee growers and roasters to carry out daily checks and tastes on the quality their coffee beans.

The facility was unveiled on June 21 in Rukara Sector, Kayonza District at a ceremony that was attended by a team from St Remio led by its founder Trent Knox and his wife who funded the project.

St Remio Founder Trent Knox tastes coffee inside the cupping lab.

It was also attended by members from Sustainable Growers, district officials and local leaders as well as members of Twongere Umusaruro Cooperative.

Before visiting the coffee farmers and officially unveiling the Cupping Lab, the Australian team was in Rwanda for the Lets talk Coffee conference that took place at the Kigali Conventional Center. The conference also attracted coffee buyer. The delegates later toured Nyampinga Coffee Cooperative in Nyaruguru District.

St Remio Founder Trent Knox said the idea to fund a coffee cupping lab was inspired by his experience from coffee fields in Rwanda.

“I have been involved in coffee for over 10 years and this was the first time I was challenged to really think about the people behind coffee. The women farmers, the communities and the families and how the struggle to grow the quality coffee that we love,” Trent noted.

Trent Knox (2nd left) and his wife dance with coffee growers.

He said the lab would boost the cooperative’s coffee exports to Australia because of improved quality.

“This is a farmers celebration for me, my wife and the stars of the day the women coffee growers. Coffee is not only a commodity but has value to those that grow it. We thank you for all your efforts, Sustainable Growers and all the other partners along the coffee value chain” said Trent.

“We cannot wait to get an understanding of the impact this new facility will have on the farmers…and we look forward to sharing these stories with the people back home that love your coffee and telling them how lovely you are.”

Twongere Umusaruro, which is loosely translated as let’s increase production is a cooperative made up of 125 women and 10 men coffee growers from Rukara Sector in the Kayonza District.

The growth and success of this cooperative reveals the potential of Kayonza for coffee growing, a region previously known for its dry rolling hills and banana plantations.

Christine Condo, East Africa Regional Director for Sustainable Growers, said the new facility is a great achievement.

“This coffee cupping lab is a facility that is on an international level. Today…farmers can now test the coffee and know the quality of their coffee cherries and what needs to be done to improve their quality” said Condo.

Women farmers who attended the unveiling of the coffee cupping lab.

The Mayor of Kayonza District, Jean-Claude Mirani, called upon the women to fully utilize the facility to improve the quality of their coffee and access the international market.

“This is really good to see that a state of the art cupping lab has been built here and the first at any coffee washing station in Rwanda. Please don’t take it for granted, make use of it and grow better quality coffee. I thank the founder of St Remio Trent for funding of the lab and also always trying to help these coffee growers. Thank you” said Murenzi

St Remio is an Australian based coffee company that stands for Quality, Transparency and Community.

The company is passionate about giving consumers premium coffee without the price tag, but more importantly, it is passionate about giving back to the coffee growing community, especially in Rwanda.