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Muzo Ikizere - Nyamasheke, Rwanda

Sale price

Regular price $11.00
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This marvelous coffee comes to us by the care and skilled hands of Baho Coffee in Rwanda and is imported by our friend Ben at Sundog Trading. This information is courtesy of Sundog:




Total within Ikizerel group - 17 smallholders

Total within this lot - 10 smallholders


LOCATION: Gakenke District, Northern Province


STATION OWNER: Baho Coffee / Emmanuel Rusatira

EXPORTER: Baho Coffee / Emmanuel Rusatira

IMPORTER: Sundog Trading

ALTITUDE of FARMS: 1600 - 2100 masl

VARIETY: Red Bourbon

PROCESS: Natural

AVERAGE FARM SIZE: 0.2 hectares

AVERAGE AGE of TREES: 16 years old

EXPECTED VOLUME per tree: 3.5 kg



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



  • 2023 Rwanda national farmgate price for cherry - 410 rwf/kg
  • 2023 Baho farmgate price paid for cherry - 560 rwf/kg + 30 rwf/kg second payment 
  • 2023 FOT Kigali price paid to Baho Coffee - 4.00 usd/lb 



Muzo is nestled in the rolling hills near the heart of Rwanda, about a 2 hour drive North West of the capital city. There are drastically fewer stations in this remote area of the country in comparison to famously populated districts like those immediately surrounding Lake Kivu. Nonetheless, competition remains fierce, as the Gakenke District has garnered the attention of more strictly specialty-focused stations.

Muzo is the smallest in the Baho collection, and it is very near and dear to Emmanuel as the source of some of his most prized coffees. With only 496 producers delivering, Muzo’s annual production of exportable grade coffee usually numbers just under a full container load at around 300 60kg bags.  With altitudes topping out at 2000+ masl, it’s no surprise why coffees that come through this station are some of the most dynamic that we taste each season. 

As one of the more intensely mountainous regions of Rwanda, many farmers are located in areas that make the journey to deliver cherry particularly strenuous. To assist people living in these highest altitude and hardest-to-travel places, Baho has established a free collection service for Muzo. Producers are still given full price for cherry, and Baho takes on the extra costs associated with a station leader driving around to collect coffee at people’s homes.

As is standard practice for Baho-owned stations - training, inputs , and substantial contributions towards health insurance premiums are provided for all farmers delivering. Furthermore, each station has an agronomist on site that organizes training sessions focused on topics such as coffee plant care (planting, fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, etc), environmental protection, and importance of our traceability efforts. 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 confidence in Kinyarwanda, Ikizere is Baho’s flagship initiative of more traceable lot separations.  It’s a project that we’re incredibly thrilled to be able to support and offer to the North American market, now for the third consecutive season.  The group is composed of widowed women and single mothers who share the unique challenges of navigating traditionally patriarchal systems - both the Rwandese society as a whole and more specifically coffee production.  Through supporting the Ikizere project, we hope to aid in developing a stronger sense of community between the women and create a platform upon which their voices can be heard.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the Ikizere project grow quickly from just around 20 growers at the Fugi station to now 100+ women with representation at each station that we’re purchasing from.  Baho is heavily investing in support for this group via access to financial education, providing short term loans, and establishing clean water lines in specific communities. Emmanuel plays an active role here by arranging meetings each season to discuss their needs beyond coffee. Nonetheless, because of the success of the program, they’re all making significant improvements to their farms and investing in growing their operations. In addition to planting new coffee seedlings, many are strategically planting shade trees and using compost fertilizers as well.

In Emmanuel’s words:

Ikizere women coffee is composed by women of same identity (single mothers, head of families). The reasons to be single mothers are different but all people in this category face many social and economic challenges due to the traditional perceptions. We decided to bring these women together, through coffee, and revive their hope by showing them that we consider them as part of the community and they are equally needed , important, and valued like any other person, regardless of the struggle, social & economic situation.  It is a group that started in 2020, now well organized and have their elected leadership to coordinate activities. 

Recognition was one step, but we also want to advocate for them and sell their coffee to buyers who care about people, humanity, and equality. Coffee from these women was prepared with expectation when women used their hands to pulp cherries instead of using the machines. With income from this coffee, Baho promised these women to receive the highest price of cherries in the country, and through support from our buyers, will pay for their health insurance.

The relationship between Ikizere Women and BAHO Coffee Co. Ltd is based on humanity, social development activities and trying to change and improve living style of this group. We have so far started by training them about coffee growing, good agricultural practices, and coffee quality handling. It is a group with high level of understanding, commitment, and determination. We are developing them to make their group one of the well known women group for high coffee quality and model coffee farms. We are doing many activities with them such as training on coffee agronomy, social responsibility , access to finance with focus on saving groups, etc. We do pay them the highest cherry price every season and we make sure they are the happiest farmers not because they are women, not because they are single mothers responsible of families, but mainly because their high commitment to deliver quality coffee to our washing station. We pay them annually health insurance 100%, we give them short term loans for family development, we gave them clean drinking water line, and we have more many ideas collected from them and we will keep advocating and supporting to significantly change their lives.



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.  Step two is 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. 

The highest quality cherries are then spread out onto raised beds to begin the drying process.  The goal is for cherries to be a single, shallow layer on the beds. Cherries are turned frequently, and weather conditions are closely monitored throughout the day. If certain temperature thresholds are exceeded, workers will focus on turning coffee more frequently or cover the beds with mesh netting to cool down the environment. This focus on thin layers, coupled with frequent turning and temperature monitoring, is to ensure that the flavors remain clean and free from over-fermentation or mold defects. When the moisture content reaches the target of 10.5 - 11.0%, the drying phase is considered complete.  Total drying time for this lot was 36 days. 

Emmanuel often compares his drying methods to that of a low and slow style of cooking. Generally speaking, particularly with grilling meat or simmering a stew, cooking gently with a low heat for a long period of time will produce an end product with more cohesive, sweet, saturated flavors. He explains: When you take meat and you put it on charcoal, after 20 min you have your meat ready. But in an oven, it would take 45 minutes. If you put it in hot ash, it may take two hours. When you taste these three meats, there's a difference in the taste. I have this kind of thinking that coffees that dry slowly, the taste and lifespan of this coffee may be longer and more delicious than the coffee that dries for 10-12 days in sun.















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 few seasons where increased market demand has 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 above the national 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. It’s become commonplace that a much higher percentage of cherry than usual - up to 30% in some cases - must be sorted out to achieve their ripeness standards. He’s seen this put a massive strain on the workforce at washing stations; and because of these factors, all Baho has started incorporating bonuses at the end of the season for their station management staff. 

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! 



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. 

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