Discover Burundi Coffee
You would have noticed Burundi coffee beans featured more frequently at coffee roasteries across Australia. This is for good reason. Over the years, the coffee farms in Burundi have dedicated their pursuits to cultivating high-grade beans. Their efforts have paid off. Coffee lovers are praising cups of Burundi for their flavoursome, exciting and complex brews.
Researching Burundi coffee, you soon discover it’s not just about the green beans, farming practices and processing methods. Coffee farming in Burundi holds a long and turbulent history, which we will unpack here.
We recommend pouring yourself a cup of Burundi so you can enjoy this delicious drop whilst you learn about the origin.
Burundi Coffee Background
Burundi is one of the many countries in East Africa, which farms impressive high-grade coffee cherries. Sometimes overlooked due to the country’s popular neighbours Kenya and Ethiopia. However, we encourage you to explore this hidden gem further. With Burundi’s dedication and persistence the country has grown a reputable name for themselves. In fact, Burundi coffee season is an anticipated period of the annual coffee calendar.
The 1930s saw coffee cultivation introduced to Burundi. Colonial rule encouraged the farming of speciality arabica trees. Coffee farming did help with jobs and the livelihoods of Burundi people (somewhat). However, practices on the farms were heavily controlled and often not for the better. Burundi longed to take operations into their own hands.
In 1962, Burundi gained independence. They were finally able to take back power over their land and farming practices. This saw great benefit. From the mid 1960s – 1990s the quality of Burundi coffee rapidly increased.
Burundi saw the potential economic benefits of coffee cultivation. With assistance from the World Bank, the nation invested greatly in coffee farming. Coffee washing stations were built, coffee trees were planted and education encouraged. As practices developed, quality increased. The nation was growing and developing as their coffee quality increased.
Burundi encountered civil war from 1993 – 2005. Burundi’s civil war resulted in many devastations. Land and agriculture took a massive hit. Coffee farming – with many other sectors in Burundi – encountered a major setback.
After over a decade in turmoil, the nation breathed a sigh of relief in 2005. Here is when the first president was democratically elected since 1993. This ended the civil war and paved the way for development.
Government and international companies invested in the coffee sector. Initiatives were introduced to encourage focus on growing speciality coffee. Cooperatives were organised to share agricultural information. Financial assistance was given to farmers. Coffee farming was seen as the way out of poverty.
Agricultural practices, farming knowledge and speciality coffee production have taken a huge leap forward. Considering the many setbacks, it’s remarkable the persistence and resilience the nation has embraced.
Nearly 50% of the population in Burundi relies on the coffee industry for their income. Family-run smallholders make up the majority of coffee farms in the country. These families work closely with washing stations and green bean exporters to deliver their premium product. Roasteries across the globe now can enjoy the wonderful offerings from Burundi.
Coffee Regions In Burundi
Exploring Burundi, you’ll encounter endless amounts of coffee farms. The most renowned areas in Burundi are: Buyenzi, Kirimiro, Mumiwa, Bweru and Bugesara. Although these are the most common regions, there are many more to discover.
We recently roasted coffee Kayanza and Tangara. The beautiful aromas and flavours that these beans exhibited – mind blowing! Whilst the Kayanza displayed flavours of citrus and chocolate. Tangara, was full bodied and bursting with tropical fruits. Exploring coffee from Burundi offers a diverse journey full of delicious surprises.
Burundi’s Growing Conditions
Located in east-central Africa. Mountainous landscape, decent annual rainfall and volcanic soils rich in nutrients. Coffee fields thrive. Cherries are plump, red and healthy.
Because of the mountainous landscape, altitudes differ greatly. From as low as 700 MASL to as high as +2700 MASL. The higher the altitude, the more complex and flavoursome the coffee becomes. High altitude coffee scores an impressive SCA +85. Here at Karvan, we source high altitude coffee due to flavour and quality.
Burundi Coffee Process
Beans from Burundi are commonly Bourbon variety and wash processed. However, there are several farms that experiment with natural processing. We’ve recently received a honey processed Burundi. This honey process has delighted our palates with notes of lychee and papaya.
Run by smallholder producers, the coffee harvests are also small. The average farm has around 250 trees with each tree yielding 1.5kgs of cherry. Because of this small scale, it allows for the farmers to give the coffee trees meticulous attention.
Cherries are handpicked, taken to a washing station and given scrupulous quality assurance. High quality is essential to Burundi farming practices. Once the beans have completed the processing, they’re cupped and tasted for quality purposes.
Washing stations play an important role in maintaining the high quality of Burundi coffees. Often run by the state or private actors, the washing stations ensure transparency of the green beans. In addition, washing stations educate farmers on agricultural processes and adopt quality control mechanisms to obtain those superb speciality beans.
Why You Should Drink Burundi
For Burundi, espresso is not only a delicious beverage, it has been the nation’s means of survival.
Nearly 50% of the population relies on the coffee industry for their income. They’re dedication to high quality has meant they’re able to charge higher prices. This has seen great economic benefits for communities across the country.
In addition, Burundi coffee is absolutely scrumptious. Take a sip of your brew. You’ll see what we mean.
Stay tuned for new Burundi coffees roasted by our Karvan team. See here.