Tucked away in the Nyamasheke region of Rwanda’s Western Province is the Cyato washing station site. This is one of two washing stations managed by the Fidele family, the first of the two producing naturals and started by the father, and Cyato managed mainly by son Leo. Cyato is set up with a Penagos 800, and they are producing mainly fully washed coffee. The station is much farther than some of the others we buy from in Nyamasheke, and on the edge of the Forest of Nyungwe. Cyato sits at roughly 1850 meters above sea level, and the local coffee farmers have coffee planted well above 1900 meters, growing older Bourbon cultivars. Coffee is wet processed, hand picked, and dried at Cyato proper, but then moved to a house nearby where they store the dry parchment to rest before preparing for exportation. Cyato produces a bit more chaff that other washed coffees when roasting, making it a little more difficult to judge roast color, especially when shooting for City roasts. It does make audible snaps at the lead of 1st Crack though, and a good idea to pay close attention to the audible roast markers. I also like to winnow the remaining chaff off after roasting, as the fan in my roaster doesn’t clean my roast batches completely, and chaff in the cup can add a bittering edge when brewed.
Cyato smelled delicious across the range of roasts we performed, a strong display of baking spice and dark sugars, loose leaf black tea accents. The wet aroma pulls out spiced notes like ginger chews and clove gum in the steam, with a bright smelling citrus zest accent. My Full City roast released a delicious cherry-chocolate smell in the steam. Once the cup is cool enough to drink, a lovely acidic impression is apparent from the get-go, complementing lemon, raisin and mace spice accents that come into play as the temp dips further. The sweetness stays with you from start to finish, showing similarities to panela or turbinado sugar. Tea-like flavors flourish in light roasts and an Early Grey note marks the finish. Big body is apparent in our City+ and Full City roasts, the latter laying a complex, chocolate-y groundwork of baking cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate chips and cacao nibs along with a juicy dark grape note. Cyato makes a fantastic espresso shots on its own, and I played around with blending 50/50 with one of our Brazil dry process coffees for a 2-bean espresso blend with excellent results. The Brazil tempers sharp acidity, adding a layer of bittering cocoa roast tone, and building body.