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The Nordic Approach to Coffee Processing (with video)

Nora Hindar (left) and Fred

Nora Hindar (left) and Fred Kasigwa (middle) during the construction of the Motherland Farmers washing station. Photo by Nordic Approach. 

There is an old saying, “The devil is in the details.”

In the case of Nordic Approach, the green coffee importing company founded by Tim Wendelboe (the person) and Morten Wennersgaard (formerly of Solberg & Hansen), the devil is represented by imperfections in any lot that may affect the cup. The Nordic Approach approach, so to speak, is to cast out that devil by painstaking and meticulous quality control through sorting and separation through the entire production process.

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We are not suggesting that the approach is unprecedented at origin. However, it is available to us in this video, where the amount of manual sorting alone is remarkable:

The video captures the production processes — from the first floating the picked cherries to farm-level cupping with Wennersgaard — at the Motherland Farmers Coffee Washing Station in the Nyamagabe district in Southern Rwanda, where Wendelboe and Wennersgaard are not only buyers and importers, but also shareholders and quality managers.

Nordic Approach got involved with Motherland Farmers in 2012, lending coffee expertise to a project first envisioned by Rwandan Fred Kasigwa, who inherited a 105-hectare plot of land in Nyamagabe district and thought of a washing station as an opportunity to help support the approximately 1,000 smallholder farmers locally. Norwegians Bente Denstad and Nora Hindar established an investment company for the project, and soon after enlisted the help of Wendelboe and Wennersgaard.

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“About a year later, in 2013, we established the formal partnership and during the same period we bought the extra land close to a water source to establish the washing station,” says Nordic Approach, which has also overseen chicken and cattle management for fertilizer, training among area smallholders, and macadamia production for secondary incomes. “The concept is to give as much as we can back to the local community, as we believe this will give us access to better coffees.”