With genuine respect to Lot 7, this Lot 16 selection is one of the best Kanzu lots that we’ve tasted in recent years. Delicate graham cracker, apricot, and a hibiscus-like florality on the nose introduce a vibrant cup offering juicy flavors of tropical fruit, citrus, and cooked berries.
For our sixth consecutive year presenting a selection from the famed Kanzu washing station, Passenger’s green buying team chose two distinct lots to release simultaneously. Lot 16, composed of coffee delivered and processed approximately 16 weeks into the 2020 harvest, offers a bright and intricately layered representation of this celebrated Rwandan producing region.
2020 marked the sixth consecutive year that Passenger has purchased coffee produced by the Kanzu washing station, located on the shores of Lake Kivu in sourthwestern Rwanda. Our annual selection process usually proceeds in exactly the same way each year: we receive samples in late summer from our Rwanda supply chain partners at Red Fox Coffee Merchants, evaluate the various numbered lots that are offered to us on the cupping table, and forward book a requested volume of our favorite lot amongst that harvest’s available options. Each year, the numbered lot that we select, whether “Lot 8”, or “Lot 10”, or “Lot 15”, is simply released on the Reserve Lot menu as our “Kanzu” selection for that particular harvest.
When we received our 2020 harvest samples last year, Passenger’s green buying team decided to mix it up a little and contract a small volume of two numbered lots, to provide a different opportunity for comparative tasting.
At Kanzu, a “lot” is composed of the coffee from approximately one week’s worth of coffee cherry, delivered to the station by local farmers during the harvest. Each lot ultimately amounts to about 45 bags (60 kg. each) of exportable green coffee. During peak harvest, a lot might represent 3-4 days of cherry deliveries, during the beginning and the end of harvest, the time frame might stretch closer to 7-10 days. So, the lot numbers in this context indicate the relative point of the annual harvest timeline that a particular lot represents. In a standard year, the total number of lots produced at Kanzu tends to be around 20.
Passenger contracted a small portion of Lot 7 as well as Lot 16 from the 2020 Kanzu harvest. Following the above description, Lot 7 is composed of coffee delivered and processed approximately 7 weeks into the harvest, while Lot 16 (at 16 weeks in) represents a considerably later moment in the overall timeline - probably pretty close to the end of peak harvest. We think both of these lots are absolutely stellar, and they certainly offer different cup profiles: Lot 7 is rich and balanced with predominant baking spice and browning sugar qualities while Lot 16 is more fruit-forward with a juicier acidity. When enjoyed side by side, the two selections provide a fascinating reflection of how the harvest evolved at Kanzu last year.
Throughout the entirety of the harvest, processing approaches are meticulous and consistent at Kanzu. Shortly after delivery, the coffee is pulped using a standard disc pulping machine after which it is fermented for upwards of 24 hours. After fermentation, the coffee is washed in long channels, soaked once more overnight, and finally spread out to dry on raised beds. A more recent development at Kanzu has involved the increased use of shaded drying beds rather than traditional raised beds placed in the full sun. While drying is likely not the only variable at play here, we feel that the benefits of slower, more controlled drying under shade likely contributed to the outstanding quality of these 2020 harvest selections.