Latest Reserve Lot Additions: New Names and Old Favorites from Brazil, Burundi, and Rwanda

By Evan Howe

Passenger’s Reserve Lot menu is a home for exceptional coffees, often in limited volumes, that offer a pristine representation of plant genetics, skilled approaches to processing, or the time and place of their production. Many of our Reserve Lots are purchased from producers or competitions that Passenger has been supporting since our start, but some of them are one-time purchases that were simply too special to pass up. Our latest collection of Reserve Lot additions offers an incredibly diverse spectrum of flavors to explore. Included below are a few notes of introduction.

Marcos Tomazini

Marcos Antônio Tomazini is a member of the community of Bateia, located in the municipality of Castelo, Espírito Santo. As with many of their neighbors, the Tomazini family is descended from Italian immigrants who arrived in the region in the early 1900’s. Marcos and his brother Valdeir grew up in the coffee business, and currently manage the family farm that was established by their parents. Since a switch from commodity to specialty coffee production in 2001, the Tomazini brothers have steadily built an international reputation as two of the most accomplished and innovative producers in the Espírito Santo region. This delightful microlot, harvested in late autumn 2021, is a fitting testament to the achievement of the Tomazini family, and only increases our interest in Espírito Santo: a perennial source of some of the finest Brazilian coffees our team has tasted to date. This is the first coffee that Passenger has purchased from Marcos Tomazini and we certainly hope it will not be the last.

Mikuba Honey Process and Gaharo Dry Process

Over the years, the vast majority of the coffees that Passenger has purchased from our friends and partners at the Long Miles Coffee Project in Burundi have been wet processed (“washed”) coffees. We love the clarity, complexity, and structured acidity that top quality wet processed lots offer, and our primary Long Miles purchases each year (presented as Passenger’s Foundational Heza lot and the Burundi offering on the menu of our sister company Necessary Coffee) traditionally focus on wet processed coffees. However, as with all of Passenger’s Foundational Partnerships, we approach our annual sourcing conversations with the team at Long Miles with a goal of purchasing a wide spectrum of coffees - encompassing multiple flavor profiles, processing styles, and quality grades. Our latest Reserve Lot offerings from the 2021 Long Miles harvest, Mikuba Honey Process and Gaharo Dry Process, are truly spectacular coffees that, thanks to the skill and dedication of our Burundi-based partners, find a compelling and deeply enjoyable balance between process and terroir in the cup.

Kinini Village and Kanzu

Our final two Reserve Lot additions, from the producing country of Rwanda, include both a new name and an old favorite. The new name is Kinini Coffee, an inspiring collaborative enterprise in Rwanda’s Northern Province, founded by Jacquie Turner and Malcolm Clear. In the interest of creating a business enterprise with potential for generational impact, Jacquie and Malcolm built the Kinini Coffee project in a very interesting way. After years of persistent lobbying - of the local government, of the Development Bank of Rwanda, of a community of farmers in a region to the north of Kigali where little coffee was being produced - they received approval to sign “leases” on parcels of land owned by smallholder farmers near Kinini Village. Most of the parcels that were leased in this way were not under cultivation, and under the terms of each lease, Kinini Coffee agreed to supply free coffee trees, agronomic training, and logistical support. In exchange, the farmers who chose to sign leases agreed to deliver the eventual fruit from the coffee trees planted on their land to the Kinini Washing station, for which they would be paid. Progress has been rapid since the Kinini Coffee project was officially launched in 2014. After widespread distribution of coffee seedlings to participating members, 85% of whom are women, the Kinini team organized farmer trainings, and built the Kinini washing station near the village. Since the project’s first significant coffee harvest in 2017, Kinini Village has swiftly built a reputation for being not only a highly innovative community project, but also, increasingly and consistently a source of some of the finest coffees produced in Rwanda in recent years. We are incredibly proud to share this elegant, wet processed selection from the 2021 Kinini harvest.

Coffees processed at the famous Kanzu washing station in Nyamasheke, Western Province, Rwanda have been annual and much-loved standbys of the Reserve Lot menu essentially since Passenger’s start as a roasting company. Our latest selection, representing the 2021 harvest, underwent traditional wet processing at the site: ripe coffee cherry was passed through a disc pulping machine, at which point the seeds were fermented for approximately 24 hours. Following fermentation, the coffee was washed in long channels, soaked once more overnight, and finally spread out to dry on raised beds. The finished result is a crystalline representation of Rwandan terroir and heirloom Bourbon plant genetics.

Latest Reserve Lot Additions: New Names and Old Favorites from Brazil, Burundi, and Rwanda