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On Monday night this week we were delighted to host this year’s Rwanda Cup of Excellence cupping at our roastery alongside fellow roasters and coffee people. Unlike the Nicaragua COE cupping which we hosted in May, Monday’s cupping was a more dignified affair with a slightly smaller group! A mix of barista’s, café owners and roasters came together with the gang from Falcon Speciality to taste the best from this year’s harvests in Rwanda and there were some truly stunning coffees on the table. With 28 coffees to taste, it was a daunting mission and we decided it was best to complete it in two tables! Surprisingly, there were marked differences between a lot of the coffees with distinct flavour profiles, but the one thing we were all pleased to find was the absence of the infamous potato defect. Riley from Falcon Speciality briefly discussed this problem which is prevalent in both Burundi and Rwanda and is caused by the antestia fly boring a hole into the cherry while it is still on the tree, leaving it exposed. This results in a defect which cannot be picked out during green grading, nor once the coffee has been roasted – it is only when the affected bean is ground for drinking when this defect makes itself known and emits a strong potato smell within the ground coffee! It is something which has really affected sales of coffee from both countries and the Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) are currently investing resources in research to try and solve the issue. Susie Spindler, from the Cup of Excellence organisation made the following comment on their findings so far:

‘For Rwanda what we have found so far with the baseline cuppings for the research and Cup of Excellence cuppings is what everyone already has found out- that the potato defect in both the Rwanda and the Burundi coffees is very much reduced this year. There has been a very focused effort to look at ways to reduce this in both countries and both report much more spraying for the antestia bug but I think it also may be related to much drier weather. The exporters association has taken over the fund for fertilizer and pesticides and will be looking at ways to distribute these. Our research is looking at pyrethrum (which is made from a type of chrysanthemum flower which grows in Rwanda and would be organic), pruning and conventional insecticides. We will be comparing coffees from the research farms next year. There is a tremendous amount of research being done by universities so it won’t be long before there is a solution.’
In the meantime, ACE have requested everyone to make them aware of any cases of potato with this year’s Rwandan coffees so if any of you happen to spot a spud amongst our new crop Rwanda’s (due in November) then please let us know!

Thanks to everyone who made the time to join us with a big up to Dough Boys for the pizzas which didn’t hang about too long, also to Noisette Bakehouse for the scrumptious brownies and of course our wonderful neighbours at Ridgeside for providing a keg!