The Bean Hunter’s Travel Blog: Africa, Part 3

DAY 5:

Today was the longest day of cupping that I have had in a long time.  The power outage the night before halted roasting and left us with 46 samples to cup today, which comes out to a total of 194 cups.  The good thing was that it was broken down into 5 separate sessions.  There were some really nice coffees mixed in with some mediocre, as well as some bad.  I had the luck (or bad luck) of getting a grade 3 potato defect on my last table.  It was crazy how much the defect smells and tastes like boiled potatoes.  The act of tasting so many coffees in a day is by no means physically exhausting, but man does it wear you out mentally.  The act of mentally converting all of these sensory experiences into a quantitative score really beats you up.  Plus, being over affiliated for the better part of 10 hours really gets to you.  Tomorrow we have a short day with only 30 coffees which translates to 120 cups.  Then once we are done, we get to spend some time at the Genocide Museum, which I am not sure if I am excited or hesitant to go to.  After experiencing the Holocaust Museum in Germany and the effect that had on me, I only hope this experience isn’t as traumatic.

DAY 6:

Today was the start of the second round of cuppings.  Of the 60 coffees that had made it through to the international round we passed 29.  Meaning that between all the international cuppers the coffee scored on average above an 86.  It was a much lighter day than yesterday.  It seemed though that I had the bad luck today as on 2 of the 3 tables I got the pleasure of having coffees with severe potato defects where you could smell and taste intense notes of boiled potatoes.  We had planned on going to the Genocide Museum but we finished cupping too late and it would have been closed by the time we got there, so it had been rescheduled for tomorrow.  We did get to go into town and do a bit of shopping as well as taste the locally made banana wine and banana beer, which were both as bad and repulsive as coffee pulp wine.

DAY 7:

Today was the last day of cupping as we only had the top 10 coffees to cup.  We did get to sleep in some as we were starting at 8:30 this morning instead of the usual 7:00.  It was raining like crazy this morning so of course there was no power so we had to wait a while to get started.  It was one of the best cuppings that I have ever done.  The rain was pourng down on the tin roof, it was probably 75 degrees in the cupping room instead of the usual 100 degrees, and the coffees were amazing.  I had never tasted Rwandan coffees with these types of profiles.  They were reminiscent of Kenyans and Huilas.  We finally got the chance to visit the Genocide Museum today and I will just say that it was very heavy.  I just finished the book “Land of 1000 Hills” by Steven Kinzer and it just brought everything together.  Tomorrow we head north for the awards ceremony which I hear will be attended by 3000-5000 people as well as possibly President Paul Kagame, who I now have tremendous respect for.

Paul Massard
Bean Hunter