Mbirizi, Burundi

Intensely sweet, this bright and juicy coffee reminds us of tart plums, lime and rhubarb. Notes of cinnamon and cola linger into the finish.

For the last five years we’ve been lucky enough to have roasted some incredible coffees from Burundi. Unwaveringly they have come from one of Salum Ramadhan’s impeccably managed washing stations, where they are doing an amazing job of producing quality coffees with unique and distinctive characteristics. This year was the first time we actually visited Burundi, getting to spend valuable time with Salum. We travelled around Kayanza and Ngozi, seeing the processing stations replete with raised beds both under shade and in the sun, as well as visiting the mill where the dried coffee has its parchment layer removed and the green beans undergo grading and classification by screen size and density.

It was eye-opening to meet the enormous team of close to 1,000, around 80% of whom are women, employed to hand sort the green coffee once it is milled, removing by hand any visible defects before the separate lots of coffee are bagged up ready for export. In some countries this kind of sorting is done via mechanical optical-sorters, but at SIVCA in Burundi it is all done by hand. We spent a day at the SIVCA cupping lab, where the lab manager Jeremy runs a tight ship, enabling us line up a concise range of delicious coffee samples to bring back to London to make our final buying decisions. Power shortages are a frequent, disruptive occurrence in Burundi, and so Salum is in the process of building his own dry mill and cupping lab complete with a generator, so as to have a more reliable infrastructure for separating and grading distinct lots of coffees.

Salum owns Sehe, Cukiro, Buziraguhindwa and Mbirizi washing stations, and this year we have bought two lots, one from Mbirizi and one from Buziraguhindwa, to be roasted for filter release. Last year we had a small lot from Mbirizi that got everyone very excited when they first tasted it, but it ran out so fast! We’re pleased to have secured a slightly larger lot this year to keep it in the range a little longer. These coffees will taste vibrant and fresh for a long period, as they have both been dried under shade, which slows the whole drying process down. Salum typically likes to dry parchment coffee in deep layers to slow down the drying time, better preserving the characteristics of the coffee. Taking this extra step of drying under shade is intended to help lock in the flavour potential of his coffees even more effectively. This lot from Mbirizi stood out initially as having such a wealth of bright, fruited notes, we knew that after a few months of rest it would become very juicy, layered and complex. Enjoy!

PRODUCER

Salum Ramadhan

HARVEST

May-June, 2017

PROCESS

Dry & wet fermented, washed and soaked. Dried on raised beds under shade.

VARIETY

Red Bourbon

REGION

Kayanza-Ngozi Border 

COUNTRY

Burundi

ALTITUDE

1,900 metres

ARRIVAL

November, 2017