RWA: Buf Nyarusiza

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Kamegeri Sector, Nyamagabe District, Rwanda

Buf Nyarusiza

Washing Station: Nyarusiza

Washing Station Owner: Epiphanie Mukashyaka, Buf Coffee

Location: Kamegeri Sector, Nyamagabe District, Rwanda

Altitude: 1800-2000 masl

This 100% Red Bourbon coffee was processed at Nyarusiza washing station which is located at approximately 1,743 metres above sea level in the District of Nyamagabe, in Rwanda’s Kamegeri sector. Nyarusiza washing station is privately owned by the wonderful Epiphanie Mukashyaka and her family of Buf Coffee.

Buf Coffee was founded in 2000 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 Mukashyaka—known to all as Epiphanie—and her sons, Samuel and Aloys, who have taken an active role in running and expanding the business. The name ‘Buf’ derives from ‘Bufundu’, the former name of the region in which its washing stations are located.

Epiphanie lost her husband, a child, and many extended family members in the horrific genocide in 1994. She was faced with the responsibility of caring for her seven surviving children and rebuilding their life. With a limited education and little money or support, Epiphanie, whose husband was a coffee farmer, decided to focus on coffee, and set about rebuilding and developing a business, and with it the local community. She started to learn more about speciality coffee with the assistance of the USAID-financed Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL) project, a transformational programme aimed at switching the focus of 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, Sustaining Partnerships to enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development (SPREAD), have been invaluable in helping Rwanda’s small-scale coffee farmers rebuild their production in the wake of the genocide, and the world coffee crash, of the 1990s.

Epiphanie went on to establish Buf Coffee, and decided to build a washing station, with the help of the PEARL programme and a loan from the Rwandan Development Bank. ‘I came up with the idea to build this,’ she says, ‘and nothing was going to stop me’. She established Remera Washing Station in 2003 and Nyarusiza in 2005, and was the first woman in Rwanda to hold a privately owned company and produce specialty coffee. Her aim with the washing stations was to improve the quality of coffee by shifting the focus from producing commercial coffee to producing high quality specialty coffee. In doing so, she aimed to add value to her processed coffee in order to secure higher and more stable prices for coffee farmers in the region. As a result, she not only improved the livelihood of her family, but also improved those of her neighbour farmers and wider community, directly by increasing their income (through higher prices paid for their cherry) and, indirectly, by bringing important services like safe water and electricity to their villages via the establishment of washing stations.

Today Buf Coffee buys coffee cherries from as many as 7,000 smallholder farmers, including five different local cooperatives. Buf has very strong links with the local communities that supply it, providing jobs for hundreds of locals during peak harvest (May–June/July) and ten permanent positions year-round.

Farmers contributing to the Nyarusiza washing station own farms that are on average 1,800–2,000 metres above sea level. The washing station is managed by Celestin Uwizeyimana who oversees the washing station’s operations and works closely with the farmers and coffee sorters to ensure that the coffee is harvested and processed with care and that production standards are kept at the highest possible level.

Varietal: Red Bourbon

Processing: Fully washed

Sourced From: Melbourne Coffee Merchants

Kristy Mujana