Introducing Coko

Coko is from Gakenke, Rwanda. Roasted by White Label, Amsterdam.
Coffee Gakenke, Rwanda
Twongerekawa Coko Cooperative
2100 meters
Roaster White Label
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Read our interview with White Label
Tasting Notes Yuzu. Sugarcane. Meyer lemon blossoms.
Method View the brew guide for Coko

Known as “the land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda’s ridges and slopes are prime for the cultivation of clean and floral coffees. Coko (pronounced CHO-co) is one notable example – its Bourbon varietals are grown over 2,000 meters above sea level in the Gakenke district, an elevation which allows for a slow development of the cherry, yielding greater complexity and sweetness in the bean.

The small washing station of Coko is owned by the twelve-person, female-led Twongerekawa Coko Cooperative. Its members are professional cultivars attentive in the production and processing of the coffee, earning Coko a well-deserved 90.5-point score. In addition, Twongerekawa implements progressive measures to alleviate poverty and empower women in its area. 

Specialty coffee has played a crucial role in the rebuilding of Rwanda following its 1994 civil war. In the last two decades, Rwanda has transformed from a country that grew almost no coffee to one that exclusively produces specialty coffee. Today, Rwanda’s coffee is amongst the best in the continent and rivals that of Kenya and Ethiopia.

Coko was roasted by White Label, the newest and brightest specialty roaster out of Amsterdam. Helmed by Elmer Oomkens and Francesco Grassotti, the roastery was founded in 2014. White Label refers to a carte blanche and reflects much of its founders’ sensibility; like a blank piece of paper or an empty canvas, White Label’s aim is to serve as a background for the product and the experience.

White Label celebrates a spirit of cooperation: they share their roasting space with their sourcing partner, Lennart Clerkx of This Side Up, inside the innovative art, entrepreneurial, and community complex De School. This close relationship has enabled White Label to grow while maintaining utmost quality and transparency.

Coko is personally significant for White Label and represents their signature offering; Elmer and Francesco visited the washing station in April of last year, and were deeply inspired by the producers and local culture. Invested in Rwanda’s continued success, White Label represented Rwandan coffee at the Amsterdam Coffee Festival this year.

With a playful acidity rounded by sugarcane sweetness, Coko is light in the mouth – a refreshing coffee we could sip all summer long. Chilling Coko over ice sharpens and magnifies its flavors: its citrus brightness transforms into notes of yuzu and the finish lingers with an intensely oral note of Meyer lemon blossoms. An iced Coko is smoother, silkier, and syrupy without being cloying.

In designing our recipe, we wanted to ensure the iced version tasted as strong as its hot counterpart. Our recipe, therefore, accounts for two points of dilution: when the coffee is brewed and when it is served.

We brewed at a very low coffee to water ratio but to maintain a proper level of extraction, we ground the coffee twice as fine and used water at a rolling boil. An Aeropress provides more body to the coffee, but the recipe can be adapted to any pourover method by increasing both the amount of brewing water and ice by 20g.