Rwanda Muhororo Washed Process
cola• earl grey tea•brown sugar
REGION: Nyamasheke, Western Province (Near Lake Kivu)
FARMER/GROWER: Celestin and Marie Rumenerangabo and 236 other households WASHING STATION: Muhororo Washing Station
VARIETIES: Red Bourbon
Over 200 households deliver their coffee cherries to the Muhororo washing station where coffee is freshly pulped and fermented for 12-14 hours before being fully washed and dried on raised beds for 12-15 days.
The history of this coffee starts back in 1973 with a story of Celestin Rumenerangabo, raised by a single mother who was displaced after the death of her husband during the 1959 uprising that led to the groups of Hutus to launch attacks on the Tutsis.
At the age of 14, Celestin Rumenerangabo walked for three days from Nyamasheke to the city of Kigali where he worked as a housekeeper for a very loving family. After three years of working and saving, he returned to Nyamasheke to support his single mother with the savings he had earned while working. When he returned home, Mr. Rumenerangabo purchased land and planted his first 380 coffee trees and started trading the coffee locally. As they got started, his mother would take care of the coffee plants and the land while he developed relationships
Mr. Rumenerangabo started buying parchment and cherry from neighbors to sell to brokers, and in 1983 he was married to a school teacher Marie Goretti. Together with his mother, they continued to see growth and success between 1978 and 1994. During this time, the family had distributed scales and milling equipment to grower partners, built collection sites, established new farms and, leaning on Marie’s teaching background, started to support schooling for children from coffee growing families.
In 1994 the genocide saw nearly one million Tutsis killed. Families were displaced and many fled the country. Many local partners in the coffee business were killed and others fled. Marie and Celestin also fled to Idjwi Island in Lake Kivu (belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo). In 1998, they returned to Rwanda with their six children to restart the family business from the ground up. The farms and plants were still intact, but many of the partners in the business were gone, they had no cash, and Celestin’s mother was in failing health. Still, Mr. Rumenerangabo’s reputation within the community gave him the support he needed to rebuild and within 2 years he was trading nearly 30 tonnes of parchment coffee!
The struggle was not over as multinational companies began to move in and acquire washing stations in the early 2000’s. In 2006 the family built their first washing station which was forced to be sold just 6 years later due to the difficulty competing with larger, better financed companies. The loss of the washing station was a big blow, but the family got together to revive the legacy of social responsibility that had been built for decades. The sons of Mr. Rumenerangabo were able to open 2 new washing stations in 2014, Gasharu and Muhororo, which began exporting in 2019.
The primary goal of Muhororo is to deliver extremely high quality coffee while investing in the local community and social development projects. By providing work at the washing station, cash advances on coffee, covering education costs, healthcare costs and even contributing to farmers' weddings, the Muhororo station is constantly giving back to their community. The next goal is to construct a daycare facility at the Muhororo station to provide a safe place for children while their parents are occupied with demanding harvest and processing work. The space will also provide basic healthcare services and education. There is also a plan to further economic development through livestock. By purchasing and donating pigs, the animals can yield two piglets each year to be redistributed in the community. In addition to social and economic programs, Muhororo Coffee gives 4,000 new coffee trees to local growers each year and facilitates training on sustainable and environmentally friendly farming in coordination with the Rwanda National Agricultural Export Development Board. These training include important topics such as land conservation and erosion prevention.