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Rwanda Ingoboka

March 17, 2006

This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.

The revival of the Rwandan coffee industry after the genocide is a wonderful thing. But there's no reason to buy these coffees out of guilt; their cup quality is reason enough. Moreover, their range of taste has also been surprising, competing with Guatemala for honors in the unexpected cup category. This coffee, Ingoboka, is named after a washing station for coffee grown around Lake Kivu at an altitude of around 1500 meters. What is it going to be like; fragrant wood like last year's Masaka, or candied orange peel and chocolate like the Karaba?

Jim: Surprise! It's like neither. The dry aroma was so complex and powerful, I frankly couldn't make heads or tails of it. The aromatics sorted out a little in the wet aroma, but were still very hard to pin down; I found them dizzyingly complex and shifting. I did make out peaty notes, brown sugar, and dark chocolate at the bottom, with sour cherries and a sharp ginger or quinine at the top. The taste reflected these aroma notes, but emphasised the darker, more brooding tones. The finish was sweet with brown sugar and deep with peaty notes. My take is that this is a difficult, complex coffee, but well worth the effort, especially if you love to give your taste a hard puzzle to work on.

Bob: The beans are washed Arabica Bourbon and there's no mistaking the East African quality of this coffee. Snappy acidity with citrus nuances, but balanced by a full sweetness that reminds me of maple sugar (sugar season is upon here in Vermont). And somewhere in the profile, one can detect a woody/piney-toned pungency. Yes, this is a complex (and enjoyable) cup. It's clean, medium-to-full-bodied with a medium-long finish. A darker roast (full city) brings out the bittersweet chocolate. This Rwandan coffee does not take much of a back seat to good Ethiopian or Kenyan coffees though it comes with a personality of its own.

Jim's Score
Dry Fragrance: 3.5
Wet Aroma: 4.75
Flavor: 8.75
Finish: 7.75
Acidity: 7.25
Body: 7.5
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.5

Bob's Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.2
Wet Aroma: 4.4
Flavor: 7.2
Finish: 7.7
Acidity: 7.4
Body: 7.4
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 88.3

  • Lighter Roasts: A complex, brooding cup even at light roasts.
  • Darker Roasts: Full City brings chocolate and removes the citrus edge.
  • As Espresso: Terrific potential for a dry complex SO espresso at the first pops to rolling second roast. This one is going to take work, but will probably be worth it.


UPDATED: March 20, 2006