March Spotlight: Rwanda Ejo Heza
300 WOMEN. 1 INCREDIBLE COFFEE.
With notes of jammy red fruits and smooth butterscotch, Rwanda Ejo Heza limited release is impeccably produced by a Rwandan women’s cooperative.
The women of Ejo Heza farm with a standard of excellence that has us looking forward to each harvest. This year, the women’s impeccable agronomy practices paired with high altitude and excellent soil have resulted in a jewel of Rwandan coffee: aromas of plum and vanilla mingled with flavors of strawberry jam and butterscotch. And with the premiums we pay going directly to the women who grow it, this is a coffee and story to savor.
RWANDA EJO HEZA - A COFFEE AND STORY TO SAVOR
Over 300 women have banded together as a “sub-cooperative,” farming as a collective, meeting weekly to pursue goals, and even establishing their own micro-lending bank to promote personal businesses. Their washing station is state-of-the-art and immaculate, receiving many certifications, including Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance compliance.
WHAT INVESTMENT IN WOMEN CAN MEAN IN A COFFEE
Improved education. Better nutrition. Resilient, productive businesses. When we invest in women farmers, the entire community benefits. The women’s cooperative at Kopakama washing station in Mushubati, Rwanda, has taken this to heart. Their chosen name, Ejo Heza, translates to “bright future,” and their coffee is brilliant.
NOTES FROM THE PEET'S ROASTERY
We really enjoy roasting Rwandan coffees, particularly when they come from farmers with the high quality and standards of Ejo Heza. This level of care was immediately apparent with the beans in their green state.
These small beans were consistent in color, a nice even green with very few leaning pale or yellowish, and no visible defects—a testament to the co-op’s impeccable methods and equipment. They smelled clean and faintly fruity but not sweet, in a way that tickled the olfactory sensors like cherry-essenced sparkling water.
We expected Rwanda to be a pretty easy roast, and it was, much like beans from Kenya or neighboring Tanzania. First crack was clearly audible outside the roaster, and rapidly built to an obvious consensus. When we throttled the burners, the beans responded well, calming considerably and allowing us to control development time better.
Ultimately, during the roast that cherry aroma developed into jammier, baked fruit notes, like a strawberry jam tart, underscored with rich butterscotch. It’s a perfect companion to dessert, or add a touch of sugar and cream to enjoy it as dessert in a mug.
-John Nicolini and Michael Madden, Roasters