We love coffees from central Africa so much so they are featured in this month's subscription (specifically Rwanda and Burundi). They are fantastic examples of what this region offers - and more than that they host completely unique flavours in the world coffee game.
However, there is this one thing that is out of the control of the producers, exporters and roasters - potato defect. Its presence has been drastically culled in the last two decades, turning around an industry that was at the time looking gloomy. Even the most carefully cultivated and meticulously processed coffees from this region have the defect. The good news? It affects 1 bean in 10'000 - that's nothing right? But we want to educate you. It will cause you no harm, it may just surprise you on the odd occasion.
SO WHAT IS IT?
You're grinding your cup of morning coffee and all of a sudden there's a waft of freshly peeled potatoes. Who's prepping lunch you think? Nope, it's Mr Potato defect! The potato defect is created by an airborne bacteria that can enter the coffee cherry whenever there is a puncture/tear in the outer skin.
The most common cause of the puncture is an insect called Antestia that creates holes in the outer cherry skin. The cherry skins can also rupture due to excessive rains that cause overly-rapid ripening.
You might ask why sell this coffee if it has the potential to hold defects? - Trust us, it's a truly amazing coffee and the producers will do everything in their powers to hand sort and remove any beans that may be affected. Denying ourselves and you the pleasure of tasting the delightful and uniquely delicious coffees from Rwanda and Burundi would be a far greater crime. It is also a matter of principle for us here at RAVE. Producers in Rwanda and Burundi are some of the most under-privileged in Africa, yet they produce some of the most unique and delicious coffees. They deserve our support for the last decade's hard work in elevating their quality.
Operating a zero-defect policy on a defect that only affects two seeds at a time seems crazy when each container we buy may have more than 100,000,000 seeds in it! We wouldn't mind rejecting a coffee where the processing or fermentation had negatively affected the whole batch, but where only a few seeds are affected? No, that seems daft!
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
If you purchase whole beans from us and you grind your coffee and you get a waft of potato/steamed veg, just throw this small amount of grind away, smile whimsically and try again. The chances are it was ONE bean, and you got unlucky.
Customers who purchase ground coffee from us, we will do our best to check your coffee when freshly ground so chances are you won't be affected. But in the extremely rare case that you feel your bag may be impacted we will of course replace it.
You see it's only once the beans are ground that you'll notice the unique aroma, or you'll taste it in the cup. But just to reiterate it's ONE bean in 10'000 that is affected!
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