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Burundi - Ruvumu
FLAVOR NOTES: Mango, Grapefruit, Juicy
TOWN: Campazi Hill, Muruta Commune
ELEVATION: 1800 - 2200 MASL
WASHING STATION: UMOCO Processing Site - Burundi Seeds Specialty
OWNERS: Juste Picasso, Jeremiah Nakimuhana, Zephyrin Banzubaze
VARIETAL: 100% Red Bourbon
DRYING: Raised beds, 5-10 days depending on sunlight, then transferred to clean bags for yeast development for 3-5 days, then back to raised drying beds for 20 more days.
From Mercanta Coffee Roasters:
Despite its small size, Burundi is home to roughly 600,000 - 800,000 coffee-producing families in five different regions. Coffee started as a cash crop here during the time spent as a Belgian colony in the 1930s. Once the country gained independence in 1962, the World Bank assisted the government in allocating resources to plant more coffee and construct washing stations. Coffee production grew until the breakout of the civil war in 1993, that lasted until 2003. This led to the abandonment of coffee farms, and destruction of numerous coffee trees. It also grew increasingly more difficult to transport coffee out of the landlocked country. When the civil war finally ended in 2005 and a new president was elected – more attention was focused on coffee production. Today, Burundi has become a small but significant contributor to the East African coffee market.
This lot specifically comes from the Burundi Seeds Specialty (BSS) cooperative in the Kayanza region of Burundi. The cooperative owns and manages the UMOCO processing facility, whereby the 847 producers bring their cherries to be processed. UMOCO means light, which essentially reveals the importance of transparency for the cooperative. The three owners, Juste Picasso, Jeremiah Nakimuhana, Zephyrin Banzubaze collectively work with coffee-producing families to develop relationships and spread knowledge about coffee production. Producing coffee is not a business for the BSS members, it is a lifestyle. In some cases, these producers need to diversify income by delivering goods via bicycle such as coal or hosting a taxi service.
Specifically, this lot comes from the Muruta Commune – which comes from the word ‘Murutua,’ translating to mean superior. This is deemed so because the old King of Burundi, Mwezi II found everything he needed in the surrounding land to survive including sweet honey, cattle, and sorghum. Additionally, the King declared that his Queens would be buried in this rich land. To this day, there are four burial sites of these ancient Queens.
The lots are defined and separated based on where they are from. Specifically, this lot is from the Ruvumu area of the Murata Commune. Once the cherries are picked, they are submerged in a tank of water to remove floaters. The remaining cherries are then dried on raised beds in the open sun for 5-10 days depending on the weather. After this first stage of drying, the cherries are moved into clean bags to initiate the yeast development – the cooling and transformation of the sugars within for 3-5 days.
Once complete, the coffee is then placed on raised drying tables for another 20 days and moved regularly to prevent mold growth. As soon as the moisture content reaches 10-11.5%, the coffee is transported 20km to the dry mill to be hulled and prepared for export.
Nearby, there is the Karbira Rainforest, and the BSS works hard to preserve the natural environment surrounding the farms. Additionally, the World Bank has also provided grants to organizations dispersing trees to producers. This has allowed for the successful donation of 304,000 trees to the smallholders associated with BSS. Some of the challenges faced by the producers include a lack of education on tree health and maintenance in addition to poor understanding of soil health. BSS are working to improve this knowledge and ameliorate the discrepancies in agricultural knowledge.