David Rubanzangabo & Tim Schilling, Huye Mountain
David and Tim use a discerning eye to process only perfectly-ripe beans at his washing station
Partnered with Stumptown
This is the year of the goat for the farmers who contributed coffee to this lot of Huye Mountain.
David is one of the most discerning guys we’ve ever met, and his work is helping to revitalize an entire region. Deeply involved with every aspect of production, he’s become a driving force behind Rwandan specialty coffee.
The area has phenomenally rich soil, full of minerals that lead to interesting, complex coffees. However, the area was short on water until 2013, when David Rubanzangabo, Rwanda Trading and Stumptown funded a project to bring water to the washing station, and to the rest of the Huye Mountain community. The production of specialty coffee here has been a huge boon. Proceeds from Huye Mountain have gone to things like like health insurance, school fees for kids and food security in the community.
David is super picky about the Butare-area farms he buys from, leading to year after year of incredible coffee. He buys from around 500 farms, then fully washes the cherries. His sister, Rachel, runs the cupping station to make sure everything is top-quality. Many farmers arrive in the bright green bikes that Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson, in collaboration with Bikes to Rwanda, designed in Portland and sent over.
Two of Stumptown’s oldest friends in Africa, David Rubanzangabo, the head agronomist of the SPREAD project, and Tim Schilling, SPREAD’s project manager, teamed up to source coffees from the greater Butare area of the country. Their combined efforts have resulted in Huye Mountain, a washing station and project.
David built his micro mill in South Butare with a focus on producing consistently complex, high quality, washed coffee. David works with approximately 500 smallholder farmers to produce Huye Mountain coffee. Throughout the harvest, David’s sister, Rachel, roasts and cups the individual lots in the lab facility. Rachel has worked for SPREAD for many years as a cupper. In 2005, she was trained by an international group of cuppers, including Stumptown’s founder, Duane Sorenson. Rachel checks the quality of the lots as they come off the drying tables and relays her results back to David and the mill which encourages continual improvements.
The 500 smallholder farmers cultivate their coffee in the mountain highlands within the Huye, Maraba, Mbazi, and Kigoma sectors of the Huye District. Committed to improving the environment, particularly with regard to greenhouse gas emissions, the mill implemented practices to prevent the wasteful use of natural resources and works to offset the effect of climate change in all spheres of its activities. David involves himself with every level of detail. He even built his own disc depulper which has an agitated density separation after pulping in the style of a McKinnon.
Huye Mountain’s rigorous cherry selection directly correlates to a cup with layered sweetness. From the depulper, the pergamino passes through a concrete channel which simultaneously washes the coffee and provides an opportunity for further separation. David uses this separation to remove floating pergamino which can include some under ripe coffee and coffee that has been infected with the potato defect. Typically, David’s processing includes 12 hours of fermentation, followed by a wash and then a final soak for 15 hours. The green beans are pre-dried under shade. To decrease the impact of the potato defect, a recurring inhibitor of Rwandan quality, additional sorting happens during the shade drying stage since the potato defect appears more easily under shade while the bean remains moist. Crucial initial slow drying maintains the integrity of the parchment, while the final sun drying on raised beds improves the outcome.
Huye Mountain won 2nd place in the 2012 Rwanda Cup of Excellence.
In 2013, David Rubanzangabo, Rwanda Trading and Stumptown funded a water station to serve two distinct needs: easier access to water for the community and a sufficient water supply for the washing station. Before the water station existed, individuals in the community had to walk almost two kilometers to get to fresh drinking water. David used to have trouble getting enough water to his demucilager and fermentation tanks which hampered his overall output. By bringing the water down through the irrigation system he installed, Huye now provides drinking water to hundreds of people in the nearby village. Stumptown is proud to help fund this through our Direct Trade premium to Huye. Huye also installed a new generator since electricity in the area is unreliable and sporadic.
In 2014, Huye Mountain used price premiums from the last harvest to reward the best farmers with cows, goats and health insurance cards as part of an incentive based system which encourages farmers to continue to strive to cultivate great coffee.