Burundi History and Geography
We have had the privilege of offering some unique and delicious Burundian coffees over the years. Unfortunately, they have not always been our best-sellers. This inconsistency could be due to the flavor profile, but I believe it ultimately comes down to familiarity. Not many people are aware of Burundian beans, or even the country as a whole. I am hoping to change that by shedding some light on this thriving coffee-growing region.
Wedged between Tanzania, Rwanda, and DR Congo, Burundi is equivalent to the size of Maryland and has a population of 11 million. Burundi was formed in the early 17th century and ruled by a king, also known as a Mwami. Before Burundi established its independence from Belgium in 1962, the country was ruled by many different European entities and experienced a very tumultuous past. Between droughts, famines, and rebellions, Burundians have experienced immense loss and unthinkable atrocities throughout most of their history. It was not until August of 2000 that Burundi finally experienced some peace with the authorization of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Despite all of their adversities, Burundians were resilient and used their limited resources and coffee crops to forge ahead and rebuild their economy.
Burundi coffee crops are essential to their economy, and 600,000-800,000 farmers are involved in its production. As you can probably guess, coffee is Burundi’s leading export. Coffee was first introduced to Burundi by the Belgians in the 1930s when they started importing Arabica coffee seeds. In the beginning, the coffee sector was privately owned. Because of their numerous political disruptions, it eventually disintegrated. In 1976, the regulation of the coffee sector switched over to the state with mixed success. In 2008, the World Bank privatized the industry allowing private cooperatives to own mills and washing stations. A coffee project funded by the World Bank called the Coffee Sector Competitiveness Support Project was established in 2016. This project increased Burundi’s coffee production by over 15% by improving its infrastructure and providing affordable resources.
Like many other African countries, Burundi has the ideal environment for growing coffee. The topography is very hilly, perfect for cultivating coffee trees, and the trees are grown between 1,200-2,000 meters above sea level. Around 25 million coffee plants are harvested on more than 60,000 hectares of land. The majority of coffee plants are Arabica, and most of them are the Bourbon varietal. There are currently 283 washing stations and 8 dry mills (privately and cooperatively owned) throughout the country.
From my research, I have learned that although small, Burundi is a mighty and prosperous country in the coffee world. Even though their coffee production has been somewhat of a roller coaster with all of the ups and downs, they persevered and became a dark horse in the worldwide coffee market. Both their private and state-run farms are meticulous with the process, and that attention to detail truly makes a difference with the quality and uniformity of their coffee.
Burundi Coffee Flavor Profile
The coffees from Burundi are one-of-a-kind and beloved for their juicy acidity, bright stone fruit notes, and rich body. Burundi’s wet-processed beans are unique and often “double fermented” or “double washed” for 12 hours after they are depulped and before they are dried. This particular process produces a very delicious and clean cup. The sweet and clean characteristics of Burundian coffee is often compared to their neighboring country, Rwanda. The flavors you discover from a Burundi bean are balanced and refined. They have the extraordinary ability to deliver a citrusy brightness while also harmonizing with caramelly flavors. This versatility allows any coffee connoisseur to discover a Burundian coffee they enjoy!
1,200 - 2,000m (above sea level)
March - July
64 - 72 ℉
Small Scale Farmers:
Bourbon, French Mission Bourbon, Jackson, Mibirzi