A group of 36 coffee farmers, last week, won the highly recognised Cup of Excellence (COE) award, after their coffee samples emerged the best following a competitive tasting process,that was subjected to international standards and conducted by professional cuppers.
The awards were based on the acidity, body, flavours, sweetness, uniqueness in taste and cleanliness of the coffees.
Since its introduction in 2008, the COE award has increasingly become popular among coffee farmers, with the number of participants in the competition rising steadily. Also notable is that the number of COE award recipients moved up this year, from 22 in 2010 to 36.
Most importantly, such initiatives have helped develop a culture of excellence among local coffee farmers, thus raising the profile of the country’s coffee brands internationally.
With more coffee producers embracing modern farming practices, coupled with the benefits of coffee washing stations, the country’s coffee can only consolidate its position as one of the most sought after coffee varieties the world over.
Coffee is one of the country’s main foreign exchange earners, having brought in $37m in 2009, $56m in 2010, with a target of $70m in 2011.
However, this revenue could increase if the country exported processed coffee as opposed to green beans. While the country boasts small roasters which largely serve the local market, the coffee industry may witness a total transformation should the efforts to set up a medium-size roasting factory materialise.
Whereas the international coffee market is widely dictated by the European and American economies which continue to demand green coffee beans from countries like Rwanda to feed their own roasting factories, it is imperative that Rwandans export fully processed coffee as it generates a lot more revenues.