Our last post about Rishi Tea got us thinking: are coffee and tea really so different? Both plants can be tricky to grow well, and yet coffee and tea both carry long traditions as vitally important agricultural crops in various regions of the world. And while they are obviously unique biological species, tea and coffee can actually overlap a good deal in terms of flavor. Many coffees, especially single origin coffees brewed via careful, gentle extraction, can have very tea-like qualities. Coffees grown in Rwanda are especially known for being remarkably reminiscent of tea. Right now, we have ReAnimator's Rwanda Rubengera on our Chemex pour over menu. It's such a delicate cup, awash in herbal notes and lemony brightness, it might just have the power to convert a stalwart tea drinker to the coffee side.
Matt Scottoline, the Director of Coffee and a roaster at ReAnimator Coffee here in Philadelphia, says that the coffee, which is a fully washed Bourbon varietal, is "really unique in its floral aromas and notes of lavender and herbaceous tea. There is a deeper, brown sugar sweetness to the coffee, and a vibrant lemon acidity." This flavor profile, with its whisper of spring blooms and sunny citrus, is a really nice change of pace during the doldrums of winter.
The beans are from a cooperative, 800 farmers strong, in the region of Kopaki, which itself is in the Karongi District of western Rwanda (see highlighted area of the map below). The Kopaki coop has joined up with another group of cooperatives called Misozi, and both are certified Fair Trade.
Like so many countries in Africa, coffee is a deeply important crop for the people of Rwanda, especially in light of the genocidal civil war that ripped the country apart in the 1990's. Rwandan farmers can take advantage of the high altitudes prevalent in their country (Rwanda's nickname is "Land of a Thousand Hills), which are ideal for growing premium coffee. Moreover, the entire industry was once controlled by the government but is now privatized, which helps these farmers also take some control of their economic futures. This NPR article from 2012 gives a closer look at the evolving coffee trade in Rwanda, if you'd like to learn more.
We'll have Rwanda Rubengera, super freshly roasted at ReAnimator's facility in North Philly, on the menu for the next few weeks. Try a pour over of this lovely coffee to explore the ways that coffee can sometimes taste like tea!
Photo of Lake Kivu by snowflakegirl