This coffee was produced at Ubumwe Washing Station in the Gacurabwenge sector of the Kamonyi District in Rwanda’s south. Ubumwe is owned by Ephiphanie Mukashyaka, the founder of Buf Coffee, and is close to Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. Here, the soil is rich with phosphorus, potassium, zinc and boron, which promotes root development and cherry ripeness.
Approximately 500 farmers deliver their cherries to Ubumwe, with plants growing between 1550-1700m above sea level. Ubumwe is also home to Buf Coffee’s dry mill and features a cupping lab, ensuring quality control and easy communication about the coffee with the workers.
Epiphanie Mukashyaka founded Buf Coffee in 2000, a move that has inspired countless women entrepreneurs both within Rwanda’s coffee industry and beyond. Having lost both her husband and one of their children in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Ephiphanie turned to coffee for stability and income to support her remaining seven children. Her husband had been a coffee farmer, so, with little education or other resources, she also followed this path.
Ephiphanie participated in in the PEARL (Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages) program, financed by USAID (US Agency for International Development), which provided access to the specialty coffee market. Learning more about specialty coffee helped Rwandan coffee farmers to alleviate their reliance on the volatile commodity market, and earn more by focussing on specialty coffee.
With this newfound knowledge and resources, along with a small loan from the Rwandan Development Bank, Ephiphanie was able to establish Buf in 2000. She was the first woman in Rwanda to own a private coffee company and establish a washing station. In her own words: “I came up with the idea to build this, and nothing was going to stop me.”
Epiphanie is focussed not only on producing high-quality coffees - and award winning ones at that - but also on supporting and fostering the communities in which she is involved. Buf partnered with the Rwandan government on the One Coffee per Poor Family program in 2018, pledging to distribute 500 cows to families within their network. Owning cows gives families access to dairy, improving their health outcomes and food security along with an additional income stream as they can sell any excess milk. The cows’ manure acts as an excellent fertiliser for their coffee plants and other crops. Furthermore, cows are also a symbol of prosperity and status in Rwandan culture, and have helped to bring a sense of pride back to the families, which was lost after suffering so many hardships post-genocide.
In 2019, Buf Coffee built a kindergarten at their Nyarusiza washing station, providing supervision and education to the farmers’ children while they work. Tuition is free and the children are also provided with a meal.
This information and images have kindly been shared with us by our import partners Melbourne Coffee Merchants.