Origins: Burundi


Overview

Altitude Range: 1700 – 2000 masl


Language Spoken: Kirundi, French and English


Harvest: March - July


Annual Coffee Production: 161,00 bags Crop 2013 ( ICO Statistics)


Common Varieties: Bourbon, Jackson (Bourbon varietal), Mibirzi (Bourbon varietal)


Avg Farm Size: 0.4 – 1 hectares

General Cup Profile

Because most of the varieties found in Burundi are Bourbon or Bourbon derivatives, Burundian coffee is known for its intense body and sweetness. The high altitudes contribute to often a more nuanced acidity supporting the sweetness and body. This coffee is a beautiful espresso and single-origin filter option. 

Growing Regions

Kayanza

located at the northern Burundi, Kayanza is the capital of the Kayanza Providence.

In Sogestal Kayanza region the are 21 washing stations: Kinyovu (1880 masl), Gatare (1680 masl), Buhorwa (1820 masl), Mutumba (1500 masl), Karehe (1580 masl), Kirema (1880 masl), Karinzi (1740 masl), Butezi (1660 masl), Muhanga (1580 masl), Kiririma (1700 masl), Mutsinda (1580 masl), Nyarurambi (1600 masl), Kiryama (1760 masl), Gitwenge (1580 masl), Gacokwe (1650 masl), Rama (1580 masl), Bwayi (1760 masl), Rugoza (1560 masl), Kavumu (1650 masl), Rubanga (1600 masl), Ruhinga (1640 masl)

Processing

Traditional Burundian processing methods are used by the cooperatives/washing stations from which we are buying. This method is where the coffee is depulped and “dry fermented” up to 12 hours before being fully washed with clean mountain water from 12 to 24 hours. This initial water introduction stops the fermentation process if any sugars remain on the parchment after the dry fermentation. Coffee is then floated down water channels to separate beans by density, then finally the beans are soaked again for an additional 12 to 18 hours before being dried in parchment on raised beds.

History of production

The Burundian coffee sector has gone through major phases and changes, all of which have greatly influenced the coffee production.

The first stage for coffee was under the supervision of the Belgians until Burundi's independence in 1962. During this period, the Belgians had control over the coffee's production and sales. Coffee was established as a cash crop.

The coffee industry was private from 1962 to 1976. During this period, the state only intervened to fund research, assist in quality improvement, and set and stabilize the price received by the producers. Even with the help of the state, the quantity and quality of coffee production decreased. The reason for the decrease on production was due of the post-independence political instability, and the lack of interest of the people in growing coffee. Growing coffee was seen as a symbol of colonization.

In 1976, the coffee industry became completely state-controlled. The private coffee factories were nationalized, and all the export activities were under the control of the state. The objective of being a public industry was to increase the quantity and quality of the production, which failed to be accomplished. The coffee industry became private for one more time in 2009. Nowadays, coffee industry remains private.

In 1986 the public coffee enterprises became totally private or partially private. The privatization of the coffee sector adopted happened when the management was privatized, certain functions were deregulated and some coffee entities were restructured.

In order to improve the general management of coffee, companies with mixed state and private ownership were created. The companies managing the depulping and washing stations—the SOGESTALS—(Société de Gestion des Stations de Dépulpage Lavage du Café) were created. SOGESTALS were set up in the country’s main coffee regions. The state kept the majority of shares in all the SOGESTALS expect the ones in Kayanza, Ngozi and Kirundo-Muyinga.

Once the private sector invested in the coffee industry, the government introduced the first measures of deregulation. This move allowed people to establish companies with total private ownership.  This started the creation of private export companies, new private washing stations were built, private factories were established, and the creation of two private roasting factories were established.

Looking Forward

Today, Burundi is a country whose main export and crop is coffee. Following the intense civil war in the late 20th century, coffee truly helped rebuild Burundi.

Burundi, like Rwanda, battles “potato defect”, a particularly distinctive cup defect that is similar to the smell and taste of a raw potato. Due to increased research on the causes and prevention, this defect is less common today, but still an issue that the country, and region is taking seriously to curb any concern of potential buyers.  We are directly supporting this research.

Café Imports was one of the first companies to truly invest in creating a market for specialty Burundian coffee. Jason Long of Café Imports helped to introduce this coffee to the U.S. market in partnership with some amazing on-the-ground partners in Burundi and specialty-coffee roasters.