Explore the World of Coffee on our Bike and Morning Brews Tours
We love bringing our guests to learn about all types of craft beverages, even those that are non-alcoholic. In this new tour, we have teamed up with the expert coffee roaster at Rwanda Bean to bring you an all-ages bicycle-based offering: Bike and Morning Brews tours!
Many people really love coffee. They get fresh whole beans, they have a finely tuned grinder, and they filter their water and use the latest equipment and methods to prepare their best morning cup.
Other folks are not so specific. As long as it is firmly in their hand to start the day it really doesn’t matter how it got there.
Our new Bike and Morning Brews tour is designed to uncover what happens well before the water passes through the grounds and lands in the mug. With no alcohol being sampled, this offering is available to all, not just those over 21 years of age.
Starting from the Portland Encyclepedia at the corner of Commercial and India streets, your bicycle-based guide will lead you to the craft and art haven of a redeveloped industrial area called Thompson’s Point.
Entering into the roastery and cafe of Rwanda Bean, your senses of smell and vision will pick it up immediately – there is some serious coffee roasting happening here.
Founded in Portland in 2013, Rwanda Bean was founded by Mike Mwenedata. Mike is a Rwandan native who lived in refugee camps as a result of unspeakable 1994 tragedies in his home country that directly affected his family.
After landing in Portland in 2009, Mike realized that people were willing to hand over pretty good money for a product that was closely identified with his home country: premium coffee.
Found just a few degrees south of the Equator, the high elevation of Rwanda’s mountainous Karora province is prime for the tropical climate that the coffee plant needs to reach full maturity. The soil in this area is very rich and fertile as it is the product of centuries of volcanic activity.
These are family-run operations, not large corporate plantations. So it took direct relationships with several hundred farmers each with small areas of land in order to supply the tons of green beans that Rwanda Bean needed for the business plan to be successful.
Without any previous experience in the industry, Mike formed a company that could import beans directly from the farmers in Rwanda and then found people around Portland who could help him bring his dream to life.
Our passion for coffee is deeply rooted in our love for the people and the country of Rwanda. – a message found on every bag of Rwanda Bean coffee
It started to work right away. People love meeting Mike and learning about his journey, and the story is backed completely up because the coffee quality is outstanding.
Our tour will visit with John Walsh, an expert coffee roaster who will share the truths about sourcing, roasting, and preparing coffee beans to get the best results.
We will be gathered around their small-batch roaster and will taste a flight of the same coffee beans that have been prepared with three different degrees of roasting.
It is a master class with one of the most experienced coffee roasters in New England. John will bring you on the journey that each coffee bean takes from the small farming villages in a landlocked nation in East Africa to over 6,000 miles away to land in Portland, Maine.
It’s a discussion about having the proper temperature and correct time applied to each batch in order to best develop the intricate flavors that these special beans provide.
And it’s about the difference that nearly 30 years of experience in coffee roasting can bring to not only awaken each bean – but also how all of this affects an entire country.
Each guest then chooses to enjoy a sample of their espresso or their cold-brew coffee served on Nitrogen. A house-made baked good is included as well.
After time to make purchases and ask any last questions, the group will head back towards Portland all fired up with new knowledge and understanding of the coffee industry.
Mostly we will understand that the success of Rwanda Bean allows them to take 50% of their profits and send it right back to help improve the lives of the citizens of Rwanda.
They have provided health care to 800 farmers in Rwanda and their families and have assisted in the construction of a children’s education center in a rural area in the country.
And it all started with a small idea and a man who was willing to figure it all out in order to create a brighter future for his homeland.
Don Littlefield is the General Manager of Maine Brews Cruise and the Director of National Operations of Brews Cruise, Inc. He enjoyed a cup of Twese-Hamwe Bourbon Reserve barrel-aged coffee from Rwanda Bean while preparing this post. The barrel that was used started at Stroudwater Distillery before making its way to Bissell Brothers Brewery, both neighbors to Rwanda Bean on Thompson’s Point. Twitter: @BeerinME