Gitesi Espresso

Warming aromas of honey and orange lead to flavours of plum, treacle and candied ginger. In milk it tastes like frangipane and spiced cherries.

The situation at Gitesi is unusual. As well as buying and processing cherry grown by the smallholder farmers in the surrounding hillsides, the Gahizis family tend to their own, for now, small farm. They have a wormery which they use to make organic worm-tea to spray on their trees as fertilizer, which also limits the spread of leaf rust. Every year they are buying more land and planting more coffee, with their mature trees producing an average of 5kg fruit per year. The cows at the station provide milk and also fertiliser for their own trees. They plant Maracuja (a type of passionfruit) to fix nitrogen in the soil; Aime Gahizis claims this helps the aroma in the coffee, as well as planting bananas around the periphery of the farm for extra income from another crop. Lots of dry plant matter is kept around the base of the trees to keep water in the topsoil. After 10 years of production, they heavily prune back the coffee trees to increase their production during the following year’s harvest. Seeds are saved from the trees that perform the best for their nursery, which is made up of 10,000 seedlings. Each year they will plant between 1,000 and 2,000 on their own farm, and the others are gifted for free to neighbouring farmers to support their own livelihoods. 

The water used for processing is from an underground source, and what looked to be a leaky pipe during our visit was intentionally left flowing as they do not wish to close off and trap the natural spring as the water will stagnate. Water used for processing coffee is full of particulates and enzymes, needing filtration treatment before being reintroduced into the local water table. At Gitesi they collect water from the washing channels as well as runoff from the mounds of coffee pulp (which breaks down to provide more compost for their trees) and first hold it in a tank. The mucilage settles and is separated off to be added to organic fertiliser whilst the water passes through lime and EM (effective microorganisms). Molasses is added to the water whilst being held in another tank before running through a suspended bag of charcoal and then fine gravel. The final filtration stage occurs when the water passes through a bed of Vetiver reeds, which reintroduces oxygen into the water. 

Aime sees the work at Gitesi as much more than simple crop husbandry and coffee production, doing amazing work within the neighbouring community. We asked him for a message that we could pass along to the people drinking coffee from Gitesi and he replied with the following message, that we haven’t the heart to shorten. 

“The Gitesi Sector is the land of our grandfathers, it’s where even my father was born. But as you know, because of Rwandan history we grew up outside our country, and we came back in 1994 after the genocide and liberation war. Upon our return we have found in our land no one among our family members, all of them were killed in the genocide.

We are now living and working with those who killed (or their children) our relatives. 

What motivates us is the reconciliation between the survivors of genocide of those who participated in genocide in our sector, now we are working together at the washing station, sharing everything in peace. Our plan is to continue changing the lives of our people at Gitesi in terms of society and economically.“

Aime Gahizis


May - June, 2017


Eco-pulped, dry fermented with 70% mucilage, fully washed and soaked.


Red Bourbon


Karongi District




1,750 - 2,000 metres


November, 2017