September's Roaster's Choice Coffee Box subscribers will be trying coffee from the Nemba washing station, one of the highest quality regions for specialty coffee in Burundi.
The Nemba washing station is high in the mountains of the Kayanza province along Burundi's northern border to Rwanda. The region is well known internationally as the water source to the river Nile and as one of the highest (if not the highest) quality region for specialty coffee in Burundi.
High altitude means that coffees are characterized by bright acidity with sweet fruity aftertastes. In the case of this particular coffee, we find notes of green apple, cherry and black forest cake.
This is one of the high scoring lots from the Nemba mill which over the course of a year receives and processes cherries from approximately 3000 farmers. Although coffee can be found almost everywhere in Burundi it is spread among many many smallholders.
In the surrounding region of Nemba the average size of a smallholder’s production is 150 trees which at 1.5kgs of coffee cherry produced per tree means an annual harvest around 200kgs.
Greenco "Hope Through Coffee"
Nemba is one of 13 coffee washing stations (all in Kayanza) that are operated by a company called Greenco. Founded in 2015 Greenco’s mission is to provide “hope through coffee”. Their belief is that high-quality coffee has the potential to provide lasting change in Burundi and through coffee they are able to support 44,000 farmers and, in turn, their families.
The fundamental premise for this is that Greenco purchases cherries from smallholders at premium prices and then processes them for selling onto specialty markets such as here in the UK. A Greenco agronomist oversees production at each washing station to support farmers, implement the most up-to-date processing methods and to track all coffee sold. This last stage is essential as farmers can receive up to three payments. The first two payments are for selling coffee cherry and then a potential third payment exists for any high scoring or competition winning lots.
In addition to station by station initiatives that build community and share knowledge Greenco also engage in broader sustainability projects that are implemented across the group.
All washing stations have been UTZ and 4C certified since 2016 and since 2019 are also Rainforest Alliance certified. Furthermore, waste water is filtered for further uses, coffee cherry pulp is converted into organic fertiliser to be gifted to farmers and all washing stations are powered by solar energy. Greenco are not only a company for whom “doing good” is paramount but their coffees taste damn good too. Since their inception they have dominated the Cup Of Excellence competitions of Burundi - the hightest quality award system recognised in the world of specialty coffee.