The Macuba station is located in Macuba town, within the Nyamasheke region of Rwanda’s Western Province. The site produces both wet and dry process coffee, both of which we picked up this year (look for the washed coffee in July!). Macuba serves almost 500 farmers in the surrounding highlands, most with less than 1 hectare of coffee. At 1685 meters, the milling site is at a much lower altitude than most of the coffee that comes in, many of the farms reaching above the 2000 meter mark. The station employs many grading techniques to separate out the top quality coffee, starting with the whole coffee cherry being submerged in tanks of water, and removing the low density coffee that floats to the top. The dry process coffee is then moved to raised drying tables where it will dry over the course of a few weeks. During this time, the cherry is turned by hand, and the workers continue to remove any coffee with physical defects they find along the way. All this care and attention results in a very uniform coffee for dry process, making it much easier to roast, as well as a very consistent brew.
When roasting this dry process Macuba lot, 1st Crack got away from me on my first go, and I wound up with a much darker roast than anticipated. I still gave it a taste (why waste good coffee at ANY roast level?), and was pleasantly surprised how nice the fruit flavors settled in with some of the more intense roast bittering. The coffee aroma had juicy berry notes that were offset nicely by fairly heavy bittersweet roast smells, and a comment made at the cupping table that it smelled like “strawberry dipped in dark chocolate” seemed appropriate. The cup flavors were in line with that description, with a fairly wide array of berry flavors that tied into this deep, underlying bittersweet cocoa base note. It’s a very nice pairing, I must say! Lighter roasts have an aromatic quality to the berry fruit that is a bit floral, like a ripe blackberry, or blueberry, and cut through by a welcome berry-like vibrance that all make for an impressive brewed coffee. My intentional dark roast was almost to Full City+ (35F post 1st Crack), which mellowed out the fruit quite a bit, though far from diminished it. The roast bittering is the flavor you taste first – a smokey bittersweet note – but dark fruits are hidden behind that bittersweetness, bubbling up from beneath a bit as the coffee cools.