Kilimbi CWS was one of two washing stations to be granted approval to produce natural and honey processed coffee in Rwanda. While production of natural processed coffee is still monitored strictly by NAEB, the elevation Kilimbi lends itself to produce exceptional honey’s. Dried on traditional African raised beds, cherry is hand sorted before pulping, removing any visually under ripe cherry, coffee is then floated to further separate any low-density coffee.
The primary technique employed was a pre-pulp wash which removed floaters, followed by then running the coffee through the de-pulper to remove the skin but to retain all the mucilage, followed by laying the pulped coffee out to dry in direct sunlight.
It is initially laid out in thin layers; this is to ensure the mucilage (which is made up of sugars) has maximum exposure to the sun when it is very wet. As the parchment dries, it is heaped into larger piles, this creates a thermal mass within the coffee that creates a more homogenous drying process. The final moisture content of the coffee reaches 12% before it is taken off the beds and stored in bags in a cool warehouse.
The drying areas are well-maintained. Grass and weeds are removed from below the beds to ensure no additional moisture raises from the ground during the drying stage. The drying beds built on terraces. Cool air from Lake Kivu helps regulate the temperature during hot days, the terraces allow constant air flow around the coffee and the aspect of the land ensures maximum exposure to the sun during the day.
Producers at Kilimbi CWS were paid on average 30% above the market rate for their coffee.