Gitesi is one of my favorite sites in Rwanda. Not only is it located in a beautiful valley, but the washing station looked clean, well-organized, and the leaders seemed motivated and competent. I had already cupped quite a few day lots (wet-process batches from coffee cherry received in a single day), and I knew the coffee was really good. The Gitesi site is at 1740 meters, actually one of the lower areas surrounded by high ridges ranging up to 2000 meters, where coffee is grown. 1,830 coffee farmers in the area supply Gitesi with cherries each year. The station fosters a relationship with the farmers by paying an additional dividend at the end of each season based on performance. Gitesi was started in 2005 and has been building capacity each year. Like much of Rwanda, the coffee is Bourbon variety. We “built” this lot by looking at all their day lot batches and combining the best ones. Early lots from Gitesi were not cupping consistently good, so we excluded those. But we found some excellent process batches from the middle harvest. And we’re not the only ones noticing: Gitesi won COE a couple years back and continues to produce competition level coffees.
Gitesi continues to produce some of the best coffee we see from the region, and this year’s lot is of significant quality. Right from the get-go, Gitesi has such an attractive set of perfumed aromatics, with dried wildflowers, red honey, and clove spice in the ground coffee, and deeper roasts have a malt syrup and grape smells. Aspects of sugar browning come into full view when you add the hot water, a rich sweetness of butterscotch and cinnamon candies hanging heavy in the air, and with Darjeeling tea released on the break. City+ roasts are intensely sweet, demurara sugar providing the backdrop to baking spice complexity, all-spice and cinnamon stick to name a couple. Golden raisin and dried apple tartness note comes up as the coffee cools, with beautiful lemon oil and orange blossom-like florals accenting the cup. Fruits are more in focus at lower temperatures, and showcased best at City+ – Full City roast levels, with hints of pear and nectarine juice. Dark roasts are very sweet, with chocolate/cacao roast tones, a fine spiced Mexican cocoa flavor in the finish. Gitesi changes quite a bit from light to dark roasts, and the sweetness is potent all the way to the outer edge of Full City (but for the most complex cup, don’t stray far from City+/Full City). Gitesi brews so well, and will also make for a great SO espresso showing depth in sweetness.