Burundi Buziraguhindwa Washing Station
About Burundi Buziraguhindwa Washing Station
Arrived February, 2013 in Grainpro bags, some of the recently arrived new crop. This coffee is a terrific value and its chocolate tones struck us right away.
Buziraguhindwa (don't try to pronounce it) is one of the newest, best equipped private washing stations in Burundi and is located at extremely high altitude of 1941 meters or 6370 feet. It was started in 2010 and has been managed since the outset by Cassien Nibaruta who had much experience running other nearby mills. This new mill, located in northern Kayanza province, is state-of-the-art, and serves as a model for others to build upon. Processes are in place throughout the entire sorting, pulping, fermation and drying cycles to reject defects, and promote the best coffee, which end up as A1 grade. There are 1300 growers who supply cherry to the station, but, the average output per farmer is exceedingly small, often less than 50 pounds from their home gardens.
The Buziraguhindwa station is located right in the heart of a coffee (and tea) growing area, making it more convenient for cherry to be transported to the mill while it is fresh. It's extremely important to process cherry right away before fermentation occurs accidentally; often in environments like Kayanza province, growers have no means of transportation. Coffee is carried in baskets on their heads and occasionally on bikes, so the nearer the washing station the better all around, for the coffee and grower alike.
Traditional processing methods here pulp the coffee and “dry ferment” it for up to twelve hours, then fully wash with clean mountain water for another twelve to twenty four hours, and finally soak for an additional twelve to eighteen hours before being dried in parchment on raised beds. The beans themselves, grown exclusively by small area farmers, are all Bourbon varietal or Bourbon derivatives such as Jackson and Mbirizi.
The overall quality of the coffee in Burundi, particularly in the northwestern hills, is high and improving steadily as premiums are being paid to farmer members of each washing station. Since coffee marketing legislation was enacted in 2008, direct sales contracts became permitted between Burundian producers and international coffee buyers, roasters and importers. Further, the legislation permits the payment of a quality premium to those responsible for producing "specialty" coffee (producers, washing station management teams and dry millers). Coffee must be harvested only when ripe and be processed promptly. This follows a similar model in Rwanda where coffee quality has also seen major improvement in recent years.
In Burundi the majority of coffee is grown by subsistence farmers. In fact, about 800,000 families in this small country of only 9 million people, grow or are involved with coffee; it accounts for 80 percent of Burundi's export revenue. Almost all of it is Arabica and of the Bourbon varietal. Farmers grow crops for their own food supply but also grow some cash crops, such as coffee. Most farms have between 50 and 250 trees, only enough to a couple of sacks of coffee in total. The coffee, once picked, has to be rushed to the local washing station.
Specialty coffee has been growing in Burundi in recent years because it earns farmers more money. Indeed natural conditions augur well for growing top coffee as there is volcanic soil and mist covered mountains, all set almost astride the equator. Selected lots can be had, often without pedigree, but with a very sophisticated palate - a terrific situation for savvy consumers. Great quality at attractive prices. High grown coffee from Burundi, particularly those from Kayanza and Ngozi provinces are making a name for themselves as single origin espresso coffees.
Cup Characteristics: A extremely chocolatey mouthfeel, velvety. Orange, citrus notes. Classy, traditional Bourbon character, dry finish.
Roasting Notes: Sturdy, dense Bourbon can handle roasts between City+ at the minimum end to Viennese on the longer end, the latter a possibility as a single origin espresso. But best roast and use, in our opinion, is as french press or drip and roasted Full City. Pull at the very start of second crack and some of the high notes will be present while the chocolate aspects will be well defined.
Burundi coffee facts:
Population: 8.98 million people
Coffee Production: 515 thousand bags (60 kg) or 68 million pounds. Arabica is 96% of production.
Country bag capacity: 132 pounds - 60 kg
Domestic Consumption: Very little.
Coffee Export: 510 thousand bags (60 kg)
Cultivated Area: 60,000 hectares (about 150,000 acres)
Harvests: February - June
Arabica Introduced: Arabica introduced by the Belgians in early 1930s.
Specialty Coffee Regions: The western and central regions.
Grades: Superior grades of washed coffee are Ngoma Mild, AA and A based on size and number of allowable defects. Average moisture content is 11.5%.
Farms: Entirely small holder based activity with over 800.000 families directly involved in coffee farming. Farms are very small with most only 50 to 250 trees per farm. Coffee is cultivated at altitudes ranging from 1250 and 2000 meters above sea level.
Botanical Varietals: Bourbon almost exclusively but very small quantities of Jackson and Mibirizi.
Since land is scarce in small Burundi it is more economically desirable that the specialty coffee be developed for its improved income. At present there are about 140 washing stations where local subsistence farmers can bring their freshly harvested coffee cherries for processing. Most processing is traditional washed method, with some semi washed being done where washing stations do not yet exist. Burundi is landlocked between Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo with a significant portion of its land adjacent to Lake Tanganyika. Coffee from Burundi is attracting increasing attention from the specialty coffee industry, as has neighboring Rwanda.