Coffee lovers are constantly searching for new and exciting coffee alternatives. One of the more interesting ones in recent times is coffee from Rwanda. Sales have been blowing up. Also, coffee shops, as well as home drinkers, love it.

Baristas have been praising flavorful Rwandan coffee. It is a big contrast to their regular coffee beans. Also, it’s been a big sensation for customers, too. These folks value quality above all when it comes to their morning coffee.

About Rwanda

In the beautiful and diverse continent of Africa, there’s already plenty of competition for coffee sellers and growers. Coffee originated in the country of Ethiopia. In addition, it has the largest number of naturally occurring coffee plant varieties. Also, Kenya has an enormous coffee industry. As a matter of fact, they employ over three million people, the majority of whom are women.

Rwanda Coffee History

Rwanda is one of the smallest countries in Africa. It might not be your first pick as a mighty force in the international coffee trade. But it is. This is because 95% of the coffee grown in Rwanda qualifies as premium coffee.

Most exporters grow a combination of quality coffee. It is used for espresso and filtered coffee. Also, a fair share of it is robusta coffee. The robusta is mostly used for:

  1. Instant coffee
  2. Cold-brew
  3. Foods that require coffee as an ingredient

Why Is Rwanda Coffee High-Quality?

Why are most of Rwanda’s coffee such high-quality? Growing coffee is all about geography. First, the country is in a high elevation zone. Second, they have a lot of mountains. In Africa, the country is known as “the land of a thousand hills.”

Coffees like Imisozi Mountain Coffee highlight this fact.

Imisozi Premium Rwandan Cofee

This geography gives Rwandan coffee a very sharp advantage in growing better coffee. It has higher elevations, which provide the ideal conditions for growing arabica coffee. Higher elevations produce coffee that is naturally sweeter with a more nuanced flavor. The flavor profile is way different than say Australian coffee.

Although Rwanda is very close to the equator, the elevation helps it avoid hot climates. Instead, it falls into temperate or subtropical climates. Also, there are only two types of climate that meet the temperature requirements for growing coffee.

Keep in mind, coffee is a very delicate plant. Therefore, Rwandan coffee will not grow properly in environments that are too hot or too cold. This is the reason why the coffee trade is so important for other countries.

Countries that drink the most coffee in the world are unable to grow enough coffee. However, in the United States, only Hawaii and California grow coffee plants commercially. Puerto Rico has had a coffee industry for some time, although it is not a state but a U.S. territory.

A few countries that don’t grow their own coffee:

  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Japan
  • England
  • The United States of America (except for the two states)

As you can see from the map, coffee is grown in many countries. Here in America, we depend on these other countries for our morning java!

Where Is Coffee Grown

Rwandan Coffee: A Whole World of Flavor

Almost all the coffee beans cultivated in this country are of the bourbon variety. It is loved because of its savory taste. In addition, it has a very pronounced fruity flavor. Even watered down this coffee made from bourbon has a pleasant taste.

Bourbon was the name of a dynasty or European rulers. The family was large. Also, they only married those considered to be royalty. They arrived around the 13th century. For the next six hundred years, the Bourbon family ruled over kingdoms like France, Spain and Italy.

rwanda coffee taste

While there’s no exact account, it’s possible that the word bourbon was associated with the color red. Red has always been the color favored by royalty. The main reason is that it was difficult to procure. Therefore, it was the most expensive color you could use for cloth materials.

This all comes back to naming a coffee variety “bourbon.”

As you may know, coffee beans are inside the coffee cherry. These cherries turn red when ripe. Also, the bourbon variety is known to turn a bright red. There is even a red bourbon variety. Besides, it’s said to acquire a distinct vermillion color when ripe.

Internationally Recognized Coffee

A prime example of this type of coffee is the Rwanda Kivu Noir. It is a single estate red bourbon blend recognized as one of the world’s best coffees. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America, it belongs in the top 15% of coffees in the world. Now, that’s a testimonial! Be sure you are using one of the best espresso machines to get maximum flavor.

Kivu Noir Specialty Rwanda Coffee

This is more likely the origin of the bean’s name. This coffee bean is internationally recognized as the standard for great coffee. If you want to drink good coffee, bourbon is always a good choice.

Does this premium Rwandan coffee feel too expensive for you? No problem. There are many brands that offer a more affordable blend. The Direct Trade Rwanda Whole Bean Coffee blend is one of the most popular choices. It’s cheaper than other brands. Also, this light roast coffee has a delicate flavor and citrus notes.

Rwanda Light Roast Coffee

A light roast in coffee makes it a better choice for your morning coffee. You don’t need to own an espresso machine to experience the full flavor of Rwandan coffee!

The Best of The Best

Sadly, this country has only been recognized as one of the best coffee growers recently. Rwanda; however, has known that their coffee is of higher quality for decades. Their crop came into the U.S. during the first years of the 20th century.

It was relatively late compared to other players in the market. Even so, the quality of their land enabled them to compete in the market. Rwanda was selling so much coffee that, at one point, it was the country’s economy.

Unfortunately, turmoil in the region interferes with international trade. But, the most devoted growers and farmers kept bettering their technique. Today, Rwanda is home to some of the most premium coffees in the world. This is thanks to the experience passed down from one generation to another.

Premium Rwanda Coffees

The Kivu Lake Grand Paradé coffee beans have an impressive flavor profile:

  • Orange marmalade
  • Blackberry
  • Chocolate

Unroasted Green Coffee Beans

Grand has a combination of flavors that is incredibly hard to achieve.

As if that wasn’t enough, this coffee is recognized by some of the industry’s most important organizations:

  • The Rainforest Alliance
  • Fair Trade Organization

Also, coffee has been grown and harvested by women. Their salary and working conditions are monitored to ensure they are the best they can be.

Grand Paradé is a high-quality provider of African coffee, particularly green beans. If you are a fan of home roasting, then they are a great option for you. Apart from Rwandan coffee, they also offer coffee from Burundi and Uganda, among others.

Next, we have Union hand-roasted coffee – Maraba Rwanda. It is one of the most exclusive red bourbon products. The coffee is ethically sourced from the heart of Rwanda. All the beans are specialty grade.

Union Red Bourbon Coffee Medium Roast

The best thing about this coffee is that it is both hand-roasted and hand-packaged. Industrial roasting machines are much like microwaves and aren’t supervised at all, which leaves us with a very uneven roast.

This Rwandan red bourbon blend, however, is too special for that kind of treatment. Instead, it gets all the attention from the Master Roasters from Union. This process enables them to achieve the best flavor possible. Plus, when you open the package you can smell the freshness of the coffee.

Royal Rwanda Coffee

Finally, we have the Royal Specialty Rwanda. It is a coffee blend from the very fine people at Axtin Coffee. This blend represents the peak quality of Rwandan coffee. It also communicates deep respect and appreciation for the country and its farmers. These hard workers make it possible for us to taste such an amazing coffee.

Royal Specialty Coffee from Rwanda

They source green coffee beans directly from the farmers. This allows them to have financial stability. More often than not, a full harvest is bought one or two years in advance. This is a win-win because it helps farmers feel stress-free when it comes to finances. The end result, they can focus on the quality of their coffee. As they say, quality over quantity.

The Royal Rwanda blend comes from the Lake Kivu region. This region is passionate about Rwandan coffee. Basically, all specialty coffee in the country comes from Lake Kivu. It is believed that the lake has a direct effect on the soil because it is loaded with nutrients. Also, it imbues coffee beans with a savory and natural sweetness that sets them apart from other regions.

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Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris, a bonafide coffee brewing and tasting enthusiast, is the founder of Coffee Shop Lady. She writes for regular coffee drinkers who like being informed about the best coffee beans from around the world, espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, and delicious coffee drinks and recipes.