With Burundian coffee rising in global prominence it is only fitting that for October we get to showcase the coffee from this part of the world. Although often overshadowed by its neighbours Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia, coffee is a key export for Burundi and with improvements in farming practices and technologies, Burundi’s own unique flavours will only be further recognised.
A landlocked country in the African great lakes region, Burundi is one of the smallest countries in Africa and has a population of approximately 10 million. Emerging from an extended period of instability by the early 1990s, reconstruction from an ongoing civil war continued until 2008 when unrest broke out between the FLN rebels and the Burundian government. More recently, Burundi has been able to socially, politically and economically recover.
Today, coffee accounts for 34 per cent of Burundi’s product exports and is a major source of funds for the largely agricultural country. Due to the limited investment in the country most farms operate on a small scale, with farmers bringing their coffee harvests together at the washing station. This is where the coffee begins to enter the global market and the coffee importer that we have sourced this coffee from, HA Bennetts works with a supplier who is located in Burundi and will choose the lots at the washing station. In light of this process, this single origin is named for the washing station where it was processed, Kibingo, in the Kayanza province which borders onto Rwanda.
As Georgia Major, who works in the quality department of HA Bennetts, highlighted, when tasting the coffee from this particular batch, it was clear that there was something special here.
“The buyers choose the lots they like and show us a selection - we cupped a whole range and this one stood out.”
One of the unique aspects of this coffee is the honey process that the bean went through. While washed process and natural were the most common processes of preparing coffee to be shipped to a roaster in the past, honey process has emerged as coffee growers have sought to innovate and improve the stages of coffee processing. This method reduces the amount of acidity that washed or natural processed coffee beans contain, as Major describes, this allows for the bean to hit the sweet spot between body and acidity.
“We thought the honey was going to be a bit in the middle. That heavier body but still holding some of the acidity.”
With Burundi being an emerging market for coffee there are still issues with getting the bean from farm to roaster. These can include difficult paperwork, bean defects and ensuring the coffee arrives on time. However, with improvements in processing and farming practices the quality of Burundian coffee is steadily increasing, and if this coffee is anything to go by then the potential is astronomical. What this means for those of us committed to getting the best out of the coffee is a close relationship with the growers.
“We're working close with our sellers to get the coffee shipped faster,” highlights Major. “We're seeing bolder flavours, more fruits more acids, cleaner cup profiles.”
To get a taste of all this head over to our online store and throw in a bag of Burundi single origin to your order today.