In May, Roasters Choice Coffee Box subscribers are drinking a coffee from Burundi, produced by small-holder farmers at the Izuba washing station.
The Izuba washing station is in the commune of Kabarore located 23km from the Kayanza township and within the greater Kayanza province - arguably Burundi’s most renowned specialty coffee producing region.
Situated in the far north of the country coffees processed at Izuba benefit from high altitudes that range between 1750 and 1900masl, and sharing many of the fruit forward taste characteristics of the coffees of their neighbours to the north, Rwanda.
This sweet tasting coffee has lychee, apricots and fudge notes.
The Izuba washing station is uniquely placed by a nearby river which it uses to produce the coffees for small-holding farmers in the surrounding area. While, in 2019, Izuba was still able to process coffee for 784 farming families the volume of production as a whole was significantly down due to bad weather and low harvests.
Read about Burundi's roller coaster history with coffee
Nestled between East African coffee royalties, Rwanda and Tanzania, Burundi shares similar growing climates and produces some of the world’s most sought after specialty coffees. When done well coffee from Burundi can be sparklingly bright, bursting with citrus and with undertones of rich sugary sweetness.
Historically, as a Belgian colony, coffee farmers were exploited in Burundi to produce cheap coffees for state owned organisations that would trade them in European markets. When Burundi gained its independence in 1962 the coffee market became largely privately owned coffee mills. These mills struggled to compete in commodity markets and the industry declined leading to coffee plants becoming underused and eventually abandoned altogether.
In the late 90s however, Burundi had begun to emerge from over a decade of civil war and those facing a decimated economy looked beyond their borders for inspiration. In Rwanda, high-grade coffee sold into export markets had begun to succeed in promoting economic development.
Burundi took note and by the early 2000’s their own transition had begun where investment in both price and state run coffee production spawned economic growth and financial opportunity. These days Burundi is considered one fo the jewels of East Africa and while they may be a small country they have a following that belies their size. Their coffees are consistently among the very best in the world.
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