Over thirty coffee tasters from different corners of the country have completed a three day training course on advanced coffee valuing techniques.

The training which attracted thirty six tasters, called cuppers in the coffee industry, was organized by OCIR-Café. Participants gathered in Maraba to benefit from the training delivered by Paul Songer, an expert from the United States.

“As the Rwandan coffee improves, it is up to the cuppers to strengthen their cupping skills and maintain that reputation,” Songer said. So he taught them how to smell coffee and feel its different flavors, its acidity, its aromatic profiles, and its body. “Coffee is very complex,” he said. “There are a lot of different things to look at.”

Abdul Ndayisenga, a private cupper, said that it was difficult for him to distinguish different flavors found in coffee and to know which ones make a good coffee. “I gained skills on the full composition of coffee,” Ndayisenga said. Another cupper said the training helped her to better describe the coffee she tastes every day. Last year, Emmanuel Maniragaba, a coffee processing officer with OCIR-Café, said the country still lacked technicians to process good quality coffee, especially when it came to tasting. There were no more than nine cuppers in the whole country and only two cupping stations.

Cup of Excellence
The training in Maraba will also prepare coffee cuppers for this year’s coffee quality national competition. OCIR-Café’s chief coffee quality controller, Malliavin Nzamurambaho, said that Rwanda is consulting the Alliance for Coffee Excellence in the hope that this year’s event will be international. The event would be labeled “Cup of Excellence”.

If this materialises, Alliance for Coffee Excellence and international coffee buyers will send international cuppers to Rwanda to taste the country’s best coffees and rate them. Songer said that holding the “Cup of Excellence” event is one of the most important ways to market the country’s coffee.

“It helps to know which the best coffees of the country are and it builds bridges between growing countries and buying countries,” he said. But such an event would require competent cuppers to do a pre-selection of the best coffees before having them judged by international cuppers.