Rain interrupted my Kicukiro-bound motorcycle ride forcing me to seek refuge in a roadside coffee shop. It was one of those long downpours motorcyclists rightfully hate.
The interior of the café I fled into was artistically decorated. Some customers were munching pastries, sandwiches and cookies while others seemed to be preoccupied with serious business discussions.
I shared a table with a stranger who needed half an hour to decide what to order and when he finally made up his mind, he instructed the closest barista to serve him water. Our bodies need constant hydration but I don’t think we need long consultations with our inner selves before we decide to drink water. About an hour later, he started studying the menu again. The same menu he had examined for 30 minutes before he settled with a bottle of mineral water.
I didn’t need that much time to decide what I wanted to consume. That was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. I didn’t have to think twice because the aroma of fresh coffee is irresistible to me. There is a huge difference between fresh, locally grown coffee and stale products like Nescafé and other lifeless concoctions some of you pick from supermarket shelves a year after processing.
Rwanda is a specialty coffee producer. Most beans produced in the country are either Bourbon or Bourbon-derivative. According to the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), there are 400,000 coffee fields in the country, covering an area of approximately 42,000 hectares. The crop is an important generator of foreign currency and its production ranges from 267,000 to 420,000 bags per year.
I grew up in a tea drinking family. When I went to college, I was introduced to imported brands of scentless coffee lacking the flavor responsible for my recent conversion. I finally discovered fresh coffee when I participated in a very informative excursion dubbed "Crop to Cup" in the Western Province. This experience was special because I was involved in the process of converting crops into beverages.
Tasting the freshest and purest coffee I had ever sampled gave me a sense of appreciation for what we have and showed me the difference between wheat and chaff. Don’t be fooled by fancy branding and packaging. There are many imported products in the market which are garbage.
I was hoping to be able to resume my motorcycle errands after a short while but the duration of my coffee break was extended by prolonged showers. On that rainy day, my outdoor activities were suspended for hours. It would have been a dull day but there is no such a thing as a dull day when good Rwandan coffee is at your disposal.
After reviewing the menu for ten more minutes, the stranger with whom I shared a table was ready to order something to eat. I didn’t pay attention to his lunch because I was immersed in my second mug of coffee. It was time to mind my own business. After all, I had a story to write and more coffee to savor.