Rwanda is blessed with ideal coffee growing conditions that include high altitude, regular rainfall, volcanic soils with good organic structure and an abundance of Bourbon. The vast majority of Rwandan coffee is produced by smallholders of which there are thought to be around half a million with parcels of land often not much larger than just one hectare per family. Coffee is grown in most parts of the country, with particularly large concentrations along Lake Kivu and in the southern province. Rwandan smallholders organise themselves into cooperatives and share the services of centralised wet-mills – or washing stations as they are known locally. Flowering takes place between September and October and the harvest runs from March to July, with shipments starting in August through December.
Kamina coffee is processed at Gatare washing station, one of the oldest washing stations in the country, dating back in 2003. Gatare has a longstanding reputation as one of the first stations to process very high quality coffee for export. Located in Nyamasheke district of the Western province, the station is surrounded by hills covered by coffee trees. Gatare has competed in the Cup of Excellence many times and always ended in the high winning lots. The station has a very large capacity, operating a 3 ton/hr McKinnon disc pulper, washing channels, dry fermentation tanks, and soaking tanks, and processed over 1000 tons of cherries this season. The parchment is dried on raised beds for 15-22 days before dry milling.