Burundi is a small, land-lock African country that has been historically ranked as one of the poorest in the world.
The volume of coffee produced by Burundi is small compared to their African neighbors, however, the attention and care provided by the farmers to their crop is first-rate due to coffee production being a major contributor to the national economy.
During the last 5 years there has been an amazing focus on quality as Burundi farmers and the processing stations have a clear appreciation for the financial and commercial rewards involved with producing higher qualities.
Greater levels of investment in coffee processing infrastructure and modern farming techniques are resulting in dramatic cup quality improvements - Burundi has well and truly arrived on the world's coffee stage in respect to specialty grade - it can compete with Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Like Rwanda, most of the coffees are processed and traded via regional washing stations. These stations are like "Co-operatives" where grading and sorting are undertaken to segregate the best lots and preserve integrity and underlying inherent characteristics of the freshly harvested crop from each of the farms and estates.
The washing stations are also keenly aware of the care and attention required to ensure quality is preserved as they target higher prices for their holdings.
Typically, there are smaller quantities of numerous lots that are available via the Australian brokers - therefore, we source from a broader range of individual lots - with perhaps 10 of 15 lots available, we look for the best 2 that suit our style and preferences.
We look for a a big, bold, buttery body and clean, Swiss-style milk chocolate flavors with a degree of complexity via a fruit element - we don't want fruit bombs, just complex fruity acids that are sweet, clean and sparkling.Ultimately, our Burundi coffees must work really well as black or with milk - a challenging feat for many origins, but something achievable with these magnificent beans.
The predominant varietal grown in Burundi is bourbon, or a derivative of bourbon.
Bourbons deliver amazing sweetness and great body in the roasted coffee and like most African coffees they are grown at high altitude and exhibit a pleasant acidity that combines with the sweetness and body to deliver a complex and delightfully balanced cup.
We generally hold 2 lots from each crop - selected by evaluating the cup profile.
First and foremost, we look for that delightful buttery body in the coffee, then pick the cleanest chocolate note - typically a Swiss-style cocoa - and finally some complexity and sweetness from the balance of acid and fruit.
We don't particularly like the overtly fruity cups for Burundi as they can be more difficult or challenging in the brew or extraction stage of the cup - get it wrong and it can degrade the finish.
As we are dealing with multiple lots, the consensus will be rich Swiss milk chocolate, hints of caramel, walnuts and toffee, buttery body and a clean, long finish with a hint of dark berry.