Akagera Urubyiruko - Nyamasheke, Rwanda

Akagera Urubyiruko - Nyamasheke, Rwanda

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Total within Urubyiruko - 33 smallholders

Total within this lot - 5 smallholders


LOCATION: Bushekeri Sector, Nyamasheke District, Western Province


STATION OWNER: Baho Coffee / Emmanuel Rusatira

EXPORTER: Baho Coffee / Emmanuel Rusatira

IMPORTER: Sundog Trading

ALTITUDE of FARMS: 1600 - 1900 masl

VARIETY: Red Bourbon


AVERAGE FARM SIZE: 0.12 hectares

AVERAGE AGE OF TREES: 10 years old


2022 AVERAGE TOTAL HARVEST VOLUME: 923 kg (increase from 887 kg in 2021)

PHOTOS: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1TpMh5F2aRR7EMSP4e9sXILY4ygfLucit?usp=sharing

* Additional in-depth information on Baho Coffee, Sundog Trading, and the Rwandese coffee sector, can be found throughout our website ~ sundogtrading.co



  • 2022 Rwanda national farmgate price for cherry - 410 rwf/kg (increase from 245 rwf/kg in 2021)
  • 2022 Baho farmgate price paid for cherry - 650 rwf/kg (increase from 450 rwf/kg in 2021) + 50 rwf/kg second payment 
  • 2022 FOT Kigali price paid to Baho Coffee - 3.63 usd/lb (increase from 2.95 usd/lb in 2021)



Akagera is a newer station in the Baho Coffee lineup that Emmanuel began managing at the beginning of the 2020 season. It’s located in the famed Nyamasheke District, set inbetween the beautiful Lake Kivu and Nyungwe National Forest. This is Baho’s 2nd smallest station, with 460 farmers delivering cherry for a total of just under 400 60kg bags of coffee each year. Akagera is considered the sister station to Ngoma, which is just a short drive down the road; you might notice that many of the same hill or island groups will deliver to both stations.    

At the end of 2019, Akagera was being managed solely by the Kobakanya Cooperative (translated, Cooperative of Coffee Growers of Nyamasheke) - a legally registered cooperative that collectively established the washing station a few years prior. Kobakanya had unfortunately been struggling to find consistent market access and was beginning to have a hard time managing the station properly. 

They then approached Baho with the option to purchase the station. Already being familiar with the small size of the operation and the high quality potential of the Nyamasheke area, it was a no-brainer for Emmanuel to jump on the opportunity. The Kobakanya Cooperative is still active, and their group of dedicated outgrowers will now have established security in guaranteed high prices for cherry and access to the specialty market through Baho Coffee.  Emmanuel works in partnership with Kobakanya, helping them remain organized and providing additional tools to grow in the future.

As is standard practice for Baho-owned stations - training, inputs, and substantial contributions towards health insurance premiums are provided for all farmers delivering. Each station has an agronomist on site that organizes training sessions focused on topics such as coffee plant care (fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, etc), importance of our traceability efforts, and environmental protection. Various inputs like fertilizers and new coffee seedlings are provided free of cost to all farmers. Baho is involved a step further here as well - helping farmers with transportation to gather materials and lending tools/equipment when necessary.



Emmanuel presented to us a handful of lots in 2019 that were traced back to communities surrounding specific hills.  This initiative immediately sparked our interest and kickstarted our discussions on how we could expand and deepen this type of traceability.  As buyers, it’s always exciting to find more information about where coffee is coming from; but additionally, Emmanuel made it very clear that it was helpful to Baho and their producer network as well.  It created the opportunity to directly support producers and hopefully motivate them to continue in specialty. 

Meaning youth in Kinyarwanda, Urubyiruko is a brand new lot separation for the 2022 harvest.  It’s a project that we’re incredibly thrilled to be able to support and offer to the North American market for the very first time. The creation of this group is a direct investment towards the future of coffee in Rwanda, as it’s composed of farmers that are all under the age of 35 and new to coffee growing. Emmanuel’s goal is to inspire a younger generation to invest in the coffee sector and dedicate themselves to working in tandem with Baho Coffee. So far the Urubyiruko group has been incredibly understanding of Baho’s vision. Everyone shows interest in change, and they’re excited about the future.  Many of their farms are brand new, with average age of trees and just now starting to produce fruits. They’ve been working with the Baho team over the past few seasons to learn best practices; and thus, many are now focusing more on composting, intercropping, and shade tree planting. We’re extremely excited to begin working with this group and can’t wait to see how these coffees develop as they invest more into their farms in the years to come.

In Emmanuel’s words:

In Rwanda, we have a challenge with coffee being grown by adults, which could have a negative impact on coffee disappearing, which is why Baha are starting to encourage young people to get into coffee plantation where we intervene in helping them to get coffee seedlings, inputs such as organic and chemical fertilizers, shade trees distribution, good price and bonus payment, and we trained them on crop rotation where we encourage them to cultivate other crops friendly with coffee such fruits and crop with high nitrogen. The relationship is really good . The Youth can see what we are doing, changes we are creating and are excited about the future and what we can achieve together. We are also happy that the youth can understand our direction and vision. We are committed to keep building relationships with youth as the future of coffee plantations.



The initial steps for each process are the same:  First, a day of intensive sorting at the cherry stage, under complete shade, to ensure only the ripest are chosen and any visible defects are removed.  The Urubyiruko group has specifically been trained in coffee sorting, so they do this step on their farms and then deliver only red cherries to the station. Once at the station, cherries undergo multiple rounds of floating - filling a large container with cherries and water, discarding the less dense cherries that float to the top of the tank.  The densest coffees (sinkers) are reserved to be processed as the higher grade lots, and the less dense coffees (floaters) are mixed in with the rejected cherries from the initial sorting to be processed as lower grade lots.  

Cherries are depulped, and the parchment then undergoes a 14 hour wet fermentation before being pushed through the grading channels.  Here the coffee is rigorously washed to remove any remaining mucilage and separated by density - with the highest density lots being reserved for our selections. The coffee is then submerged underwater and soaked for a final 8 - 10 hour period; this step is thought to both assist in ensuring all mucilage is removed and also homogenize moisture throughout the seeds for a more even drying process.     

The drying protocol begins by moving coffee onto shaded beds for 12 - 72 hours, which is a unique step in Rwanda that has two distinct benefits.  First, it sets the trajectory for the entire drying phase by initially beginning very gently and slowly under complete shade.  Secondly, it allows ample time for intensive sorting while the parchment is still wet - this is important because certain defects (seeds bitten by Antestia in particular, thought to cause the potato defect) can be seen much more easily when the parchment is wet. 

The parchment is finally moved into full sun on raised drying beds, where it’s very frequently turned until drying is complete.  Weather conditions are closely monitored throughout the day, and if certain temperature thresholds are exceeded, workers will focus on turning coffee more frequently or cover the beds with mesh netting.  When moisture content reaches the target of 10 - 11.0%, the drying phase is considered complete.  Total drying times for this lot were between 40 - 45 days. 



The Rwanda National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) sets a nationally mandated farmgate price for cherry each year, with the goal of reducing predatory buying practices.  This has undoubtedly increased wages for the majority of farmers across the country, but it hinders some station owners by also creating a price ceiling in an attempt to establish market parity. Emmanuel specifically experienced crossing this line in 2018, when he received a letter from the government demanding that he lower prices or else be fined. We’ve learned over the past few years that getting more money into the hands of farmers isn’t quite as simple as raising cherry prices at the station.  

Baho has adopted a second payment system as a workaround to this issue.  Giving farmers additional compensation later in the year means that you can go off the official books. We’re hoping to provide more consistency to this system by setting aside specific amounts of money each season to pay Baho’s producer partners more and more. The increased level of traceability that Baho has been able to achieve is making this process much easier, as we can now begin with dedicated small groups to implement the program.  We’ve started small as we explore the best methods of dispersing payments like this fairly, but we hope to scale everything up as we grow together in the future and continue to explore Rwandese farmers’ costs of living.

We witnessed a unique scenario during the past two seasons where increased market demand led to a countrywide spike in prices and extreme competition amongst stations to collect cherries. To fulfill their contracts, commodity focused stations have been paying at levels equal to Baho’s 2020 cherry prices (which at the time were far above average) for any quality level. This means Baho has had to continuously (a) increase prices as high as possible and (b) start accepting more of a variety of cherry ripeness levels. Emmanuel estimated that nearly 35% of coffee delivered in 2021 had to be sorted out to achieve their ripeness standards. He saw this put a much larger than usual strain on the workforce at washing stations; and because of these factors, all Baho station management staff were paid an additional 2 months of their salary as a bonus for the 2021 season. 

These issues are continuously evolving and are accompanied by equally shapeshifting solutions. The answers are never one size fits all; and thus, we will always work closely with Emmanuel to strengthen our partnership and support in the specific areas where we’re most needed at any given time. In addition to helping guarantee that second payments are a standardized occurrence for all groups we purchase from, we’re exploring specific projects to allocate money towards in future seasons. Stay tuned! And please reach out if getting directly involved on this level is ever of interest to you! 





Damascene Bizimungu 





This particular defect is known to be a natural occurrence in many central African coffees, particularly those from Rwanda. First off - surprise, it actually has nothing to do with the root vegetable!  The name was acquired because coffee with this defect smells and tastes almost identically to raw potatoes.  The cause of potato defect has long been a mystery for both scientists and the coffee industry as a whole; however, people are slowly coming to a consensus - though, it's admittedly still a bit confusing.  The most cited theory attributes the potato flavor to a specific chemical in the pyrazine family.  This chemical is produced by the plant as a byproduct of a unique airborne bacteria entering the seed; and most commonly, the seed is exposed because of a specific bug - Antestiopsis orbitalis (aka. Antestia) - that punctures the skin of the fruit.  

Once upon a time, it was so widespread that specialty coffee buyers would never have considered purchasing coffees from this area.  Over the past decade, however, huge strides have been made by research institutes and coffee producers alike to reduce the occurrence.  Though we may never be able to confirm that each lot is completely free of the defect, meticulous sorting and processing has certainly minimized the frequency so that it is very rare. Baho Coffee, in particular, implements multiple rounds of hand sorting at the cherry stage, during the drying period, and immediately prior to export (coupled with additional use of an optical color sorting machine).  The working theory is that if you can remove nearly 100% of all visible defects, then you will have removed nearly 100% of all instances of the potato defect as well.