Returning for its second year, Rwanda Sholi hints at a beautiful spring to come. This washed-process coffee has a deep red grapefruit acidity balanced by blackberry and brown sugar sweetness with a hint of macadamia nuttiness. This Fair Trade Organic coffee once again showcases the growing strength of Rwandan specialty coffees.
New for 2021: For every bag of Rwanda Sholi we sell, we will be donating $1 to Akilah.
In this blog post, we explore the wonderful relationships that underlie this exceptional coffee through the recollection of our newest Sales Team member (and longtime cafe manager) Kiersten.
See our original blog, "Rwanda: Sholi, Smayah, and Endless Inspiration"
THE PEOPLE OF SHOLI
Even though my visit was about a year and a half ago, I can still picture the lush greenery all around and the bright magenta traditional ceremonial dresses (imishanana) of the lovely women farmers greeting our team at the farm. We were humbled by their welcoming attitude and enthusiasm to show us their work.
All around Sholi were signs mentioning water conservation, lowering air pollution, and coexistence with animals. I was immediately struck by all the ways the farmers of Sholi are trying to be as sustainable as possible. It’s remarkable that such a small farm has done this much on their own initiative, and gives us hope for the future of specialty coffee worldwide.
We were fortunate to meet with many of the women who fulfill important roles at Sholi, from growers to accountants to managers. The Abateraninkunga ba Sholi co-op was founded by women, and while it has grown and now includes many men, the women still retain a significant role.
THIS YEAR’S COFFEE
The specialty coffee that is grown and processed by the Sholi Co-op in Rwanda is some of the best to come out of the African Great Lakes Region. The care and dedication of the growers and pickers and millers is evident from the first delicious sip. Sholi’s coffee is also Fair Trade, organic-certified, and Rainforest Alliance-certified.
When the Kaldi’s Coffee team visited in 2019, we did a coffee cupping on one of the farms with about 15 of the Sholi Co-op members. Our hosts had picked fresh fruit for us from their farm, which added an exciting nuance to the experience of the coffee cupping. My favorite memory was of a Rwandan fruit called the tree tomato or tamarillo. This is an egg-shaped fruit that is yellow-red on the outside and has vivid blood-red flesh on the inside. Tangy and tropical, like a kiwi crossed with a passionfruit, this fruit was strangely and wonderfully echoed in the coffee itself.
The main coffee we sourced this year is a washed process coffee with juicy red grapefruit notes layered with macadamia and brown sugar, and tart blackberry sweetness. This won’t be the only Rwanda Sholi coffee we present to you this year, either—keep an eye out for the very unique natural process coffee we’ve sourced from Sholi and will be offering soon! To us, this is a really cool way to keep growing the relationship, year after year.
GIVING BACK TO AKILAH
Kaldi’s Coffee also forged a connection to another Rwandan community over the last couple of years: the Akilah Institute, a higher education center for women. The Kaldi’s Team was fortunate to also visit Akilah during our 2019 visit, and to participate in one of their graduation ceremonies.
Akilah is the Women’s Institute within Davis College, and is based in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. It’s about a 2 hour drive east of Abateraninkunga ba Sholi. Akilah is helping to level the playing field in many industries and fields, enabling and empowering East African women to earn better incomes and build better lives for themselves and their families and countries. This goal intersects with the work that Sholi has done and is doing to transform the coffee industry of Rwanda.
This year, we are grateful to have the opportunity to give back a little to the inspiring women of the Akilah Institute. For every bag of Rwanda Sholi we sell, we will be donating $1 to Akilah.
The Akilah Institute and the Sholi Co-op are both transforming the way Rwanda’s specialty coffee works, and how the world engages with Rwanda. Kaldi’s Coffee is humbled to be involved with both of these organizations, and to use our Rwanda Sholi coffee sourced from Sholi, to help give back and strengthen our partners in Rwanda.
Don’t miss this year’s crop! Rwanda Sholi’s lush tartness from red grapefruit gives way to buttery macadamia and a deep sweetness of blackberries and brown sugar. This coffee carries the promise of better times, and brightens the end of our wild winter. It’s also flat-out good-tasting coffee, and made by hard-working producer-partners who put in enormous efforts to improve sustainability and raise the quality of their crop again and again. We are proud to offer the Rwanda Sholi once more!