Burundi doesn’t have a long history in coffee, but despite this, their quality has caught up on the world stage. Let’s jump in and take a deeper look!

The History

Compared to most well-known coffee growing countries, Burundi’s history with coffee is much shorter and more volatile. Despite being relatively close to Ethiopia, coffee trees are not native to the region and were only introduced in the 1930s by Belgian colonies.

Due to political instability in the region for decades due to colonialism, war and the struggles of neighbouring countries, Burundi was consistently ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world and the most in need of financial aid and relief.

In recent years, Burundi has taken many cues from neighbouring Rwanda after witnessing the country’s rebuild through an increased focus on growing and selling higher-quality coffee through the 2000s. With the government’s increased focus on exporting goods and working to improve internal infrastructure, Burundi is becoming a more reputable country for high-quality coffee as its economy begins to pick up and continue lifting its people out of poverty.

The Terroir

Burundi is a naturally hilly country, which makes it ideal for coffee growing. Most Burundi coffees are high-elevation crops and, as a result, are generally sweeter and juicier.

The Varietals

The most common type of coffee grown in Burundi is the well-regarded Bourbon varietal, which is generally more commercially viable for smallholder farmers despite having a lower yield. Bourbon coffees are usually sugary with complex acidity and a more subdued fruity flavour.

The Processing 

These flavours, along with terroir-driven complexity, result in most coffees being washed after double fermentation processing - a method most commonly used in Burundi, Rwanda, and Kenya, where it was originally developed in.

The Taste

The most common tastes one can expect from Burundi coffees are cooked, caramelized, or dried fruit acidity, with a full-bodied and thick mouthfeel and a brown sugar or light molasses sweetness, usually with a clean finish and lingering, but mellow aftertaste.

“This washed coffee is vibrant, clean, and sweet with creamy mouthfeel. All signs of green coffee in good condition. Burundi’s specialty coffee is developing, and the quality of coffees produced there is truly worldclass,” Phil Robertson, Co-Owner of Phil & Sebastian, raved.

June 09, 2023 — Zara Snitman

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