Oikos Stories and Tasting Notes
OIKOS ROAST: 01/CWOFFEE
In 2007, a group of thirty Rwandan coffee farmers came together with a dream. They wondered what impact they could have on their community if they worked together and formed a cooperative. These farmers from South Western Rwanda, most of whom have a single smallholding of between 350 and 2500 trees, gathered under the name Urengerekawa (a Kinyarwanda phrase meaning ‘Let us protect coffee.’)
Our first roast at Oikos is named 01/Cwoffee with a nod to the wonderful coffee of Rwanda. As a church we’ve had strong links with Rwanda since 2008, with many of our congregation visiting the country working with various projects. A Rwandan coffee had to be where we started the story of Oikos Coffee.
Cwoffee is a single origin roast. Sometimes we will offer a blend of a few different beans to add different notes and depth to our coffee. This time we're not offering a blend but a single origin roast. The beans from the Urengerekawa Cooperative are Nyakabuye Invozu beans and to be honest are, like much Rwandan coffee, absolutely fantastic. We've added some tasting notes below to help you get the most out of the experience of drinking 01/Cwoffee.
But 01/Cwoffee, as with all our Oikos roasts, is more than just great coffee. At the heart of Oikos is a belief in a God of justice and therefore all our blends have a story of justice behind them. The formation of Urengerekawa Cooperative put the power back into the hands of these small farmers. In 2008, with the ability to do more together, they invested in their own wet mill. This allowed them to produce, treat and sell their own coffee, with more control over each step of the process.
The cooperative is run with each member having an equal share of the business, meaning wealth is fairly distributed. However, the story is more than just personal wealth and a path out of poverty for these farmers. It also means a better life for their communities. Urengerekawa Cooperative has been able to invest in a school for their community and sow into developing the local infrastructure including housing, water and roads.
The Rwandan government has pointed towards the coffee industry as one road out of poverty. So, with a heart for the people of Rwanda and a heart for living lives of justice we are excited to have the coffee produced by Urengerekawa form the heart of our first Oikos roast, 01/cwoffee.
Tasting Notes (from our friends at Revelation Coffee Roasters)
Upon opening your bag of our first amazing single origin roast, Cwoffee, take a moment to savour the aroma of the dry coffee, straight from the bag. Primarily you should appreciate the sensation of spices, specifically Cinnamon, Cloves and Anise. On the back of the spices there is the distinct arrival of Hazelnut and lastly, if you are paying attention you will notice some Black Cherry and Chocolate aromas.
If you are brewing Cwoffee in a cafetierre, allow one heaped spoonful per cup and let the soaked coffee extract for at least four minutes. Before plunging, break the crust that has formed on the top with a spoon and take in the aromas released by the brewed coffee. Here you should be detecting Cinnamon again, Liquorice and an even stronger aroma of Black Cherry. Ensure all the crust has fallen to the bottom of the pot before pushing down on the plunger.
Let’s be honest however, coffee is made to be drunk, not sniffed… So with each sip of Oikos Roast 01/Cwoffee you should not fail to notice the primary flavour of Tart Black Cherry, followed closely by a distinct Liquorice experience and ending with a delicious Honey aftertaste.
In your mouth this roast should feel well rounded with a medium body and leave a very clean taste.
OIKOS ROAST: 02/KOMFORT
In 1994, tribal genocide ripped through the beautiful nation of Rwanda. The emotional horrors of that event are still felt by communities, families and individuals across the country. The small town of Karengera, like many others, was a place where the stories of pain were bottled up and not dealt with. In July 2015, some members of the Scottish charity Comfort Rwanda & Congo visited Karengera. It was a town noticeable for its lack of Joy. Silence was the overwhelming noise. As Good News International, one of Comfort Rwanda & Congo’s partners, started to support that community something remarkable was happening. Joy was returning. As the team from Comfort Rwanda & Congo returned a year later they arrived not to silence but the sound of singing and praising God. The feelings of loss were being healed. The story of being abandoned and forgotten was being rewritten. The return of the team from Comfort Rwanda & Congo was significant. It reminded the community of Karengera they were not forgettable, they were not irrelevant, and they were not on their own. Their new story was one of joy. Their new story was one of healing. Karengera’s new story was comfort.
So, we introduce our second single origin roast, 02/Komfort. On their return in 2016, the team from Comfort Rwanda & Congo met with the community of Karengera in a school building surrounded by coffee trees. The beans for 02/Komfort come from Karengera and their own coffee processing mill, or “washing station” as it is known locally. Many of the community members are actively involved in the coffee process, whether it is as owners of the land, or involved in the drying and production side of the business.
Rwanda is blessed with ideal coffee growing conditions that include high altitude, regular rainfall, volcanic soils with good organic structure. 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. Karengera is in the Nyamasheke district near Lake Kivu, and the borders of Burundi and Congo.
The great Jewish king, David, wrote in one of his songs “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” These opening words of Psalm 116 were almost tangible as the community of Karengera sang with joy on the return of their Scottish friends in 2016. So as we reflected on the story of Karengera finding comfort in a God of Justice, we wanted to celebrate alongside the community there by using their beans for our second Oikos Roast. We believe the beans from Karengera are packed with incredible flavours and we’ve enjoyed playing about with different lengths of roast to produce a really exciting cup of coffee. So as you enjoy its beauty know you are also doing something beautiful, helping the community of Karengera find healing. It is a small part of the process but the beans in 02/Komfort are filled with a story of comfort, of justice and of joy.
Tasting Notes (from our friends at Revelation Coffee Roasters)
The enjoyment of our second single origin roast, 02/KOMFORT, starts way before your cup of coffee is even brewed, let alone tasted. When you open your bag the aroma should start to set your taste buds dancing. Your nose should take you on a journey from the sweet spice aromas of nutmeg and cinnamon to nutty hints of cashews. You should also find in the background a woody, perhaps cedar, tail to the aroma.
If you are brewing 02/KOMFORT in a cafetierre, allow one heaped spoonful per cup and let the soaked coffee extract for at least four minutes. Before plunging, break the crust that has formed on the top with a spoon and take in the aromas released by the brewed coffee. Here you should be detecting fresh plums mixing in with the nutmeg which was present in the dry coffee. The cinnamon notes, while they remain sweet, are off set by the homely savoury smell of fresh vine tomatoes. Ensure all the crust has fallen to the bottom of the pot before pushing down on the plunger.
The joy of coffee though is in the taste. So with each sip of Oikos Roast 02/Komfort you should not fail to notice the well rounded plum flavours and dried date mixing with the savoury notes of cashew and even a hint of tobacco leaf in the final notes. As the smooth finish slides over your tongue you should also find the familiar taste of cocoa pleasantly lingering in the final notes.
All in all, 02/KOMFORT is a complex cup of coffee but which effortlessly and joyfully tells a story of the sweet and savoury on the taste buds.