Laurence Mukakabera

  • Country
  • Province
    Northern Province
  • District
    Gakenke District
  • Sector
    Ruli Sector
  • Washing Station
  • Elevation
    1,980m above sea level
  • Variety
    Red Bourbon
  • Processing
  • Farm Size
    480 trees (0.18 hectares)
  • Farm Owner
    Laurence Mukakabera
  • Washing Station Owner
    Dukunde Kawa Cooperative
  • Relationship Length
    Since 2023

Apricot jam, cherry and milk chocolate. Great balance and intensity, with a creamy body.

It is very rare to be able to get a coffee that is traceable back to a single producer in Rwanda, so we feel extremely fortunate to be able to share this special lot from Laurence Mukakabera’s farm Kinyonzo-Gihura.

Most of the coffees we source from Rwanda are traceable back to a washing station, or sometimes a farmer group. Most washing stations in Rwanda receive cherry from hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of farmers who own very small plots of land – on average less than a quarter hectare, with just 300-600 coffee trees. Separation of such tiny lots is expensive and impractical, so the large majority of coffees are processed as a mixed lot from multiple producers. Typically, lots are separated as day lots (ie. cherries that were all picked on the same day) rather than by a single farm or producer group.

Single producer microlots like this one are difficult to access, especially from such a small producer (Laurence owns 480 trees). One of the reasons this lot separation is possible is that Laurence is a member of the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative, who operate their own dry mill, where they can process smaller lots individually, whilst minimising cost and maintaining excellent quality standards.


Laurence was born into a coffee-growing family, and began to learn about farming from a very young age. Upon getting married, she established her farm with her husband, using seedlings they collected from already established coffee farms in the region. Sadly, Laurence became a widow during the horrific Rwandan genocide, forcing her and her two children to flee to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) until the troubles in her country subsided. During these years, she supported herself and her family by weaving and selling baskets, as she had no access to any land for farming. When she returned to Rwanda, she found her property destroyed, and she faced the task of rebuilding her life from scratch while caring for her children.

Using her precious experience as a coffee grower, Laurence decided to re-start her plantation to generate her main income, and continued to weave baskets during the off-season. Through years of hard work, she was able to rebuild her home and educate her two children, eventually joining Dukunde Kawa Cooperative. In doing so, Laurence was able to connect and share her knowledge with other genocide survivor farmers in the area, becoming a leader within the co-op. When the Rambagirakawa women’s group was established, Laurence was one of the first to join — helping her reach a wider market with the baskets she continues to weave, and earning her a more stable and reliable income year-round.

Today, Laurence owns 480 coffee trees and has gone to become a leader within Rambagirakawa. At her farm, she also keeps a cow she received from Dukunde Kawa and a pig she bought with the income generated through coffee. Along with coffee, Laurence grows sustenance crops like beans, cassava, potatoes and corn, which help keep her farm’s soil healthy and free of erosion. When we asked Laurence what it meant to her to be a part of Dukunde Kawa, she told us that “the cooperative has become a solace and bread provider to single mothers. We meet people, we learn and we grow together as a family.


Ruli sits at 1,920 meters above sea level, overlooking a beautiful landscape of rolling green hills and rich, red earth. A total of 1756 farmers (1104 men, 652 women) deliver cherry to the washing station, which employs 36 permanent staff and increases by another 222 seasonal staff during the harvest period.

The area surrounding Ruli has mineral-rich soil and a lush environment that is well suited to specialty coffee production. Typically, farms are situated between 1,800 to 2,100 meters above sea level. Coffee is grown as a cash crop, alongside subsistence food crops like maize, beans and sorghum and some livestock like goats and chickens. Cows are also an important asset to a farming family. Besides having practical advantages – like providing milk and yoghurt to feed the family, producing excellent manure for the coffee farms, and being an opportunity for additional income – they are also a traditional symbol of wealth and status in Rwanda.

The washing station was established in 2003 and is the largest of Dukunde Kawa’s washing stations. It serves as the head office for the cooperative’s management team and the site also encompasses the cooperative’s dry mill and its dairy operations. The property is also the site of the Rambagirakawa community room and Dukunde Kawa’s cupping lab, nursery and model farm. Recently, the cooperative decided to expand their business by establishing a commercial roastery that supplies coffee to restaurants and hotels across town, with all activities carried at a building also located in Ruli.

Quality control operations at Ruli are overseen by Emerthe Mukamurigo, who has held this position since 2014, while the day to day is managed by Philomene Nyirabantu. Ruli is Rainforest Alliance certified, UTZ certified, and Fair Trade certified. These certifications help the growing cooperative find different markets for the coffee. “We were already doing a lot of the things that were required for these certifications”, Isaac (the executive secretary of the cooperative at the time) explained, “We are always trying to be the best cooperative we can be. Getting the certifications has helped highlight what we are doing well and helped us raise our standards in other areas.”

Head here to learn more about the work of Dukunde Kawa in Rwanda.


The team at Dukunde Kawa takes a huge amount of care in processing its coffee. All members of the cooperative are trained to only select ripe coffee cherries from their trees.

  • On delivery the cherries are inspected and sorted by hand to ensure only the very ripest cherries are processed. They are then sorted by weight (and any floaters are removed) by a Pinhalense machine that the washing station staff affectionately have named the ‘Umupolisi’ (police person). They are then pulped on the same day – usually in the evening – using a mechanical pulper that divides the beans into three grades by weight, with the heaviest, A1, usually having the highest cup quality.
  • After pulping, the coffee is fermented overnight for around 12–18 hours and then graded again using floatation channels that sort the coffee by weight. The beans are then soaked for a further 24 hours, before being moved to raised screens for ‘wet sorting’ by hand.
  • As with most washing stations in Rwanda, women do the majority of hand-sorting. This takes place in two stages – on the covered pre-drying tables and on the drying tables. Washed beans are moved from the wet fermentation tanks onto the pre-drying tables, where they are intensively sorted under shade for around six hours. The idea is that greens (unripe beans) are still visible when the beans are damp, while the roofs over the tables protect the beans from the direct sunlight.
  • Next, the beans are moved onto the washing station’s extensive raised drying tables (‘African beds’) for around two weeks, where they are sorted again for defects, turned regularly and protected from rain and the midday sun by covers, ensuring both even drying and the removal of any damaged or defective beans. During this period the coffee is also turned several times a day by hand to ensure the coffee dries evenly and consistently.
  • After reaching 11% humidity, the coffee is then transported to Dukunde Kawa’s purpose-built warehouse prior to final dry-milling and hand sorting at the cooperative’s dry mill.


This is the first time we have purchased Laurence’s coffee, and we are excited to continue working with her in the future and as she grows her business further. This lot is incredibly balanced, with a great texture and jammy sweetness.