31 Dec

On the second day of my tour of Nyamasheke, I visited three coffee estates owned by Kivubelt Coffee. My first stop was Kamujumba plantation, found in Gihombo Sector. On my way to Gihombo, the view of the lake attracted my attention, compelling me to go off the script. During this impromptu stopover, I spent a few minutes soaking up the beauty of Muzira Peninsula, Konyanamo Island and the grandeur of the hills surrounding the lake.

When I approached Kamujumba, I was awestruck by its stunning appearance. From the distance, the plantation looked like an island. When I got closer, I saw a narrow entry point connecting the nine-hectare estate to the mainland. What looked like another tropical island is actually one of those picturesque peninsulas embellishing the shore of Lake Kivu. 

In the nursery, I studied the germination of seeds. Then I joined plantation workers and experienced their day-to-day lives. Following instructions from the estate manager, I learned how to nurture tender trees and carry out regular maintenance tasks.  

A regular coffee tree produces its first fruit-bearing flowers three to four years after planting. The fruits, commonly known as cherries, turn red when they are ripe enough for harvesting.

Before departure, I wandered around the farm and marveled at the lake and its environs. From my vantage point, I had a clear view of the neighboring Nyaruzina estate. After bidding goodbye to my instructor and his team, I returned to the highway and proceeded to Jarama washing station. 

Upon arrival, I picked up from where I left off prior to leaving the plantation. At the washing station, I learned how beans are extracted from cherries. We call them beans because of their resemblance to legumes. Technically, they are seeds.

Kivubelt coffee applies wet processing. Also known as washing, this method involves the use of substantial quantities of water. Wet beans are then spread out on open-air patios and exposed to the sun. Both wet processing and sun drying are common in Rwanda. 

The shore of Lake Kivu is attracting investors in the coffee sub-sector, including Kivubelt Coffee. Its altitude level, humidity, equatorial mist and rich volcanic soil create an ideal terroir for the production of high quality coffee.