​Episode 446 on Monday the 29th of May, 2017. Malawi Msese AAA + AA Washed

May 28, 2017

Msese wetmill is part of South East Mzima Cooperative Society and is one of a few washing stations that form the coop in the Msese zone in North-central Malawi. The mill processes an average of 15,000kg of coffee cherries per year sourced from 60 farmers of the Ngoni & Tonga tribes. These producers are subsistence farmers for whom coffee represents an important part of the local economy. They also grow maize, beans and soya - though premium specialty coffee remains a vital cash crop allowing these farmers to provide for their families.

The Mzuzu Co-operative Union’s aim is that all small-holder farmers are guaranteed...

  • Accommodation which is iron-roofed, cement-floored, plastered and well-ventilated
  • Food security (three decent meals a day)
  • Adequate clothing and bedding for their families
  • Education for their children

The coffee is wet processed, where the fully ripe cherries are...

  • Pulped
  • Fermented for 12-48 hours (depending on climatic conditions)
  • Washed
  • Dried slowly over 2-3 weeks on raised African beds

The coffee is then delivered to the dry mill where it is rested in parchment before being hulled, cleaned, graded by bean size and handpicked before being bagged in GrainPro for export.

Msese is located on the Southern tip of the South Viphya Plateau, between the Kahingina Forest Reserve & the Viphya Complex Forest Reserve. The altitude generally ranges between 1,200 & 1,300 metres above sea level with some areas rising up to 1,700m. To the east is Lake Malawi, one of the ‘African Great Lakes’ constituting the Great Rift Valley which runs through the east of the continent.

Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries. In many places the roads are poor, making the area very difficult to reach in the rainy season. Electricity is scarce and access to drinking water and medical facilities still presents a challenge to the local population.

In the cup this starts off very floral with a delicate fruit sweetness, this shifts towards kiwi fruit before finishing with a big glug of chocolate milk.

  • Country: Malawi
  • Region: Northern
  • Zone: Msese
  • Mill: Msese
  • Coop: South East Mzima
  • Contributing farmers: 60
  • Altitude: 1,453 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals: Geisha, Catimor & Nyika
  • Grade: AAA + AA
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Drying method: Raised African beds
  • Drying time: 2-3 weeks
  • Average rainfall: 1,200 - 2,000mm average per year
  • Soil: Acidic sandy loam & clay


Floral, sweet, kiwi, chocolate milk.

Clean Cup: (1-8): 7.5
Sweetness: (1-8): 6.5
Acidity: (1-8): 7
Mouthfeel: (1-8): 6.5
Flavour: (1-8): 7
Aftertaste: (1-8): 6
Balance: (1-8): 7
Overall: (1-8): 7.5
Correction: (+36): +36

Total: (max 100): 91

Episode 445 on Monday the 22nd of May, 2017. Bolivia David Vilca Washed

May 22, 2017

A big big Bolivian favourite here at Hasbean, I am so pleased to see this coffee back for an amazing SIXTH year! It’s a big favourite for me, and I know this is also true for many of you too.

The farm is located in the colony of Bolinda in the North Yungas region of Bolivia, near to the town of Caranavi. The farm doesn't actually have a proper name and so is named after the gentleman that runs it, David Vilca. This is quite common in Bolivia: farms are often named after an individual or the family running them.

David migrated from La Paz to the farm fifteen years ago, after a career in mining left him with damaged hearing. He bought this twelve hectare farm as security for himself and his family, to make sure that they could support themselves. When he took over, he only had one acre planted with coffee (it was of the Criolla varietal). After two years, David was comfortable with coffee farming. He was becoming increasingly interested in it, and so he decided to extend the coffee plantation. He now has five acres of coffee (and we have bought the coffee from all five acres). He has very little outside help with the farm, except from direct family: his wife helps him greatly.

The varietals on the farm are Caturra, Catuai, Typica and Criolla. The farm is under constant improvement. David is now removing much of the Criolla and focusing on Typica and Catuai, for cup quality reasons. This coffee comes from the Caturra and Typica parts of the farm.

I have a really good relationship with David and you might remember 2 years ago we did something a little different with the coffee's price. I've visited David a couple of times now and when I was there I thought he was being rude to me by ignoring me, or not responding when I spoke to him. Last time I visited, though, I found out that David's hearing had become damaged whilst he was working as a miner before he made the move into coffee.

In the past the exporter had given David some money to get hearing aids, but he spent the money on satellite TV (for his wife – who hasn’t been in that situation!) so the year before last we paid for two hearing aids while we were there, so that he could hear properly again and enjoy my smooth and soothing English voice ; )

We thought that would be the last of it. But when I last visited David didn’t have his hearing aids in. He told us that they were not good while he was picking what to wear, but also that he couldn’t afford the batteries. So we left him with cash for a microphone hearing-device for around his neck, and $200.00 USD for batteries. This worked out at 7p per bag for all the coffee we buy from him, and I didn't pick up the tab – you lovely people did! So a big THANK YOU from me, and also, of course, from David!


David's farm is between 1,550 and 1,650 metres above sea level, this is a mechanically washed coffee that underwent full wet fermentation for 16 hours before being dried in a mechanical dryer for 48 hours.

In the cup this a very sweet, creamy, well structured and chuggable coffee...think about a liquid chocolate covered papaya that you can just drink and drink and drink. This is 1 of those coffees where you finish the mug without noticing, go to take another sip and then just have to brew more.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Region: Illimani
  • Farmer: David Vilca
  • Altitude: 1,550 - 1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals: Caturra and Typica
  • Total farm size: 7 hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 5 hectares
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Washing method: Mechanical
  • Fermentation: Full wet
  • Fermentation time: 16 hours
  • Drying method: Mechanical dryer
  • Drying time: 48 hours
  • Rainfall period: Nov–February
  • Average temperature: 8°C ≤ 19°≥ 30°C
  • Soil type: Clay and shale-y
  • Other crops grown: Citrus fruits (orange and tangerine), and avocado


Chocolate, papaya, creamy.

Clean Cup: (1-8): 6
Sweetness: (1-8): 8
Acidity: (1-8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1-8): 6.5
Flavour: (1-8): 7
Aftertaste: (1-8): 6.5
Balance: (1-8): 6.5
Overall: (1-8): 6.5
Correction:(+36): +36

Total (max 100): 89

Episode 444 on Monday the 15th of May, 2017. Rwanda But Nyarasiza Washed red Bourbon

May 14, 2017

This 100% Red Bourbon was processed at Buf Café’s Nyarusiza washing station, at 1,743 metres above sea level in the south of Rwanda.

Buf Café was founded in 2003 by Epiphanie Mukashyaka, a dynamic businesswoman and a source of inspiration to countless other female entrepreneurs in Rwanda’s coffee sector and beyond. Buf is now managed by Epiphanie and her son, Samuel Muhirwa, who is taking an increasingly active role in running and expanding the business. The title ‘Buf’ derives from ‘Bufundu’, the former name of the region in which its washing stations are located.

Epiphanie, who was born in 1959, was widowed during the 1994 genocide - which claimed over 800,000 lives in just 3 months - but chose not to leave her family’s small coffee farm. Instead she set about rebuilding and developing her business and with it the local community. She started Buf Café in 2003, when she established Remera washing station with a loan from the Rwandan Development Bank and the assistance of the USAID-financed PEARL project.

This transformational programme was aimed at switching the focus in the Rwandan coffee sector from an historic emphasis on quantity to one of quality - and so opening up Rwanda to the far higher-earning specialty coffee market. The programme and its successor, SPREAD, have been invaluable in helping Rwanda’s small-scale coffee farmers to rebuild their production in the wake of the devastating 1994 genocide and the 1990s world coffee crash.

Buf Café now owns two coffee washing stations - Remera and Nyarusiza - as well as its own coffee trees, and buys coffee cherries from as many as 264 surrounding smallholder farmers, as well as three different local cooperatives! At Buf’s Nyarusiza washing station in 2014 there was a total of 798,685kg of cherry delivered throughout the season, approximately 5% of which was delivered by trees owned by Epiphane and her family. The remaining quantity of delivered cherry comes from farmers within the community surrounding the washing station.

Buf has very strong links with the local communities that supply it, providing jobs for 116 at Nyarusiza during peak harvest (May - June/July) and 9 permanent positions. A further 127 people are employed at Remera during harvest, with 10 permanent positions. (2014 figures) At the end of each season Buf will share any surplus profits with both the cooperatives that it works with and its washing station managers.

The majority of the small farmers in the area have an average of only 300 coffee trees (less than a quarter of a hectare) and use some of their land to cultivate other crops such as maize and beans to feed themselves and their families. Most of their income from the sale of coffee is used to take their children to school, pay for medical care and for investment in livestock such as a cow for milk, both for use in the home and for sale locally.

The level of care that all Buf washing stations take over their processing is impressive. Cherries are hand-picked only when fully ripe and then pulped that same evening using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades by weight.

After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight (for around 12-18 hours) and then graded again using flotation channels that sort the coffee by weight (the heaviest – or A1 – usually being the best). The wet parchment is then soaked in water for around 24 hours to stabilise moisture content.

As at most washing stations in Rwanda, women do the majority of the hand sorting. This takes place in two stages - on the covered pre-drying tables and on the drying tables. Washed beans are moved from the wet fermentation tanks onto the pre-drying tables, where they are intensively sorted under shade for around six hours. The idea is that greens (unripes) are still visible when the beans are damp, while the roofs over the tables protect the beans from the direct sunlight. Next, the beans are moved onto the washing station’s extensive drying tables for around 14 days (depending on the weather), where they are sorted again for defects, turned regularly and protected from rain and the midday sun by covers, ensuring both even drying and the removal of any damaged or ‘funny looking’ beans. After reaching 11% humidity, the coffee is then stored in parchment in Nyarusiza’s purpose-built warehouse prior to final dry-milling and hand-sorting at the dry mill in Kigali. Each coffee that arrives is also cupped by the Q-graders of Buf’s exporting partner, Rwashocco.

Lots are first separated by collection point (farmers usually hail from around 3 km distance from each collection point) and are also separated out by days. Upon delivery as cherry, the coffee receives a paper ‘ticket’ that follows the lot through all its processing. This ticket bears the date of harvest, the collection point name, and the grade (A1, A2 etc) of the coffee – for instance, if a coffee lot is called ‘Lot 1- 06/04 - A1’, this means it was the first lot processed on April 4 and the grade is A1. This simple but effective practice is a crucial tool in controlling quality and ensuring the traceability of lots.

In the cup this coffee has a big red wine richness but it’s accompanied by lime acidity, a really unique combo! There’s also a shoulder of black tea and some cola on the finish.

  • Country: Rwanda
  • Province: Southern
  • District: Nyamagabe
  • Sector: Kamegeri
  • Nearest town: Between Butare and Cyangugu
  • Washing station: Buf Nyarusiza
  • Varietal: Red Bourbon
  • Processing method: Fully washed
  • Drying method: Sun dried on raised beds
  • Altitude: Farms 1,700-1,900 m.a.s.l. Washing Station 1,743 m.a.s.l.
  • Owner: Epiphanie Mukashyaka
  • Average size of farms: .25 hectares

Episode 443 on Monday the 8th of May, 2017. Peru La Flor del Cafe Washed

May 7, 2017

Coffee came to Peru in the mid 1700s and was most likely introduced by Dutch immigrants. The Dutch brought the Typica variety which still dominates especially amongst the older farms and micro-farms. The first coffee plantings were in Chinchao, Huanuco in Selva Central and disseminated from there to the Northern (Cajamarca) and Southern (Cusco and Puno) regions of the country. Peru had its first coffee shop in 1771 in Lima and started exporting coffee in 1887.

Peru is a country which has great potential but for particular reasons it is extremely hard to find 87+ coffee landed in consuming countries. The potential is there: the country is the 8th largest producer of coffee in the world, has plenty of farms at and above 1600 and 1800 meters, and has predominantly Typica and Bourbon varieties.

But sadly this is not the case, high-end coffee out of Peru is very scarce due to the challenges they face. Most farmers own a couple of hectares only and are in remote areas. Many times their farms are 4 hours by foot from the nearest town and the town could be 8 hours by truck from the nearest port. This means coffee can sit at the farm unnecessarily for extended periods of time after it is dried. During the drying season climate conditions tend to be very humid with precipitation. Without proper storage, such as GrainPro, coffee will gain moisture and destabilize cup-quality

But this is (of course) not the case here, deliciousness! This coffee comes from the San José de Lourdes district in the Cajamarca region of Peru. The capital city of Cajamarca is Cajamarca (love it when that happens) and sits in Peru's northern highlands, in the Andes Mountains.

La Flor del Cafe is 1 of 3 farms owned by Apolinar Arevalo where he grows Caturra and Pache at 1,800 metres above sea level.

In the cup dark chocolate is up front riding shotgun with cinder toffee, some Brazil nuts are sat in the back along with their good friend Mr walnut, and there's a little pear as it cools.

  • Country: Peru
  • Region: Cajamarca
  • Province: San Ignacio
  • District: San José de Lourdes
  • Farm: La Flor del Cafe
  • Farmer: Apolinar Arevalo
  • Altitude: 1,800 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals: Caturra & Pache
  • Processing System: Washed

Episode 442 on Monday the 1st of May, 2017. Bolivia Taypiplaya Neri’s Lot

May 1, 2017

Neri and her husband Juan live in Caranavi town, they are a young couple that have only just married and every day they drive to Taypiplaya to source their cherries as at the moment they are saving money to buy their own land.

Juan is the son of Carmelia Aduviri who we've enjoyed coffee from in the past (archive) and Juan grew up helping her on the farm, delicious coffee production certainly runs in this family!

When Neri visits Taypiplaya she basically sources the best cherries that she can, that's what makes this Neri's Lot. She visits various producers who are selling their crop and selects the ones she thinks are best, Taypiplaya is a region where producers are used to delivering cherry to cooperatives because they belong to a cooperative, but here Neri fulfils that role.

Many cooperatives in Taypiplaya have closed because of bad management or through failure due to not paying their producers, it's thanks to people like Neri that we still get to enjoy the delicious coffees that this area produces.

The producers of Taypiplaya live around on the top of the mountains that surround the town and deliver their cherries to locations in the town every night. The colony is located in the municipality of Caranavi to the north east of La Paz, coffee is grown between altitudes of 1,600 and 1,850 metres above sea level and is a mix of red and yellow Caturra and Catuai.

In the cup this starts out with sweet and juicy lime before shifting towards a Cadbury’s Fudge bar, smooth milk chocolate and buttery fudge. On the finish a little bit of pineapple is doing a boogie with some flowers.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Municipality: Caranavi
  • Colony: Taypiplaya
  • Altitude: 1,600 - 1,850 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals: Caturra and Catuai
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Washing method: Mechanical
  • Fermentation: Full wet
  • Fermentation time: In cherry for 8 hours
  • Drying method: Mechanical
  • Drying time: 43 hours