The Gitega Hill’s washing station is located in the Nyamagabe District in Rwanda’s fertile and undulating southern province. The station is located very close to Nyungwe Forest and the traced source of the Nile River.
Bernard Uwitije, a native of the area, had been trading on washed Ordinary grade coffee up until 2015, when he realised the potential this area had for specialty coffee. Despite being his first time in processing fully washed coffee, he could count on his overall experience and knowledge when establishing the wet mill. He equipped the station with a 1500kg Penagos machine, fermentation tanks, and raised drying beds. These investments, along with strong oversight, has yielded very high quality parchment in his first two years in operation.
The smallholder farms supplying cherries to Gitega are situated at average altitudes of around 1650 masl, and that high altitude along with the volcanic soil of the area make Gitega an excellent location for high quality processing. One strategic area of collection is called Miko, which is made up of approximately 165 coffee farming families. The Miko farms sit between 1700 and 1900 masl and have been very consistent with their cup scores. Gitega Hills processed a little over 150 tons of cherry in its first year, but the capacity of the station has it positioned for growth in the coming seasons.
When coffee cherries are delivered to Gitega Hills they are pulped before the beans are sorted by density, using water filled grading channels. The coffee is then wet fermented for 8-12 hours and soaked for between 4-8 hours, before the wet parchment is dried under cover for 24 hours. The coffee is then moved to uncovered drying beds for an average of 15 days. During that period the coffee is continually hand sorted with meticulous precision to remove any defective beans.