Nkora is Rwanda’s first coffee washing station that was built in 1957 on the shores of Lake Kivu. Under the current ownership by CAFERWA, the washing station has further strengthened its efforts to build a more transparent supply chain with a smaller footprint. Nkora’s commitment to fair wages and reducing their environmental impact has been certified by Fair Trade Organization and Rainforest Alliance since 2014. Currently, Nkora is one of the largest coffee washing stations in Rwanda, serving over 5500 farmers. Though the majority of these farmers are independent, there are 420 producers organized under KOCANKO Cooperative, who work closely with the Nkora washing station.
Ikawa House Ltd sourced Nkora for us. Having worked in coffee for over 30 years combined, Laetitia Mukandahiro and Uzziel Habimana founded the company in 2019. Their motivation was to combine their extensive coffee experience with their motivation to make a difference in the Rwandan coffee sector. In fact, they have been part of teams that have significantly contributed to the Rwandan specialty coffee sector. One of these projects was the Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL) project in the early 2000s. The project was developed and implemented by Rwanda and USA-based universities and public institutions. It is widely accepted that the project transformed the coffee sector by organizing 9 washing stations to have better market access along with training their members in coffee cultivation, quality control, and coffee trade. Ikawa House continues this tradition of further engaging with growers to help them gain different valuable skill sets. They have developed their own curriculum and certification program on coffee cultivation, processing, and sensory analysis. The training and QC center in Kigali serves and trains partner farmers which, in return, strengthens their economic resilience and improves their product’s quality. Laetitia says “Ikawa House selects their partner coffee washing stations based on their commitment to fair business practices, quality consistency, history, and infrastructure.” Currently, they work with 12 washing stations from all parts of Rwanda.
This year we bought one of the lots produced by KOCANKO members and it is a pleasing coffee. We taste red grapes and apples with a balanced malic acidity and medium body. It has a rounded and layered sweetness that reminds us of sugar cane and warm spices like cinnamon. Nkora brews equally well on immersion and pour over methods.