Burundi Ngozi Rugabo
By Colleen Anunu | Apr 15, 2012
Burundian coffee is up-and-coming. Burundi has struggled with political and ethnic violence since its independence in 1962, but a UN-brokered peace agreement in 2003 has paved the way for a new constitution and a period of peaceful growth. In October I traveled to the region hoping to build new relationships with farmers and exporters dedicated to producing exemplary coffee.
Photos by Gimme! Coffee.
Burundi is a small country in East Africa bordering Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though it is technically land-locked, it borders the massive Lake Tanganyika, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Local legend would have you scared to enter the water, though, as the lake is haunted by Gustave... an enormous crocodile with a human eating agenda.
The Burundian landscape is like quilt-work, and is quite possibly one of the most beautiful coffee growing regions I have ever visited. The combination of high altitude, rich soil, and abundant water makes it an ideal place for coffee cultivation. Still, because of the recent and current political struggles in the country, coffee quality remains poor on the whole.
Our current microlot offering from Burundi comes from sogestal Ngozi, a region slowly gaining the attention of quality coffee buyers worldwide. Each sogestal in Burundi is managed by a regional office that implements revitalization projects and resources for washing stations.
Here, a farmer at a washing station in Ngozi transports coffee plants by bike. These plants were grown and distributed to producers in sogestal Ngozi as part of a region-wide revitalization project. Unfortunately, the regional director could not name the variety of coffee trees they are spreading by the thousands across Ngozi.
These women are finishing the final preparations before export of the 2011 Burundi Prestige Cup. As in many coffee-producing nations, the work of sorting and grading the coffee is often done by women...
... and inside the sorting tent, it's flip-floptional.
Burundi's economy is built on coffee, but the country has only recently been recognized as a region which can cultivate and export the kind of high quality product that it's neighbor to the north, Rwanda, can produce.
For us, this coffee is the beginning of what we hope will be a long standing partnership with a region that has the potential to increase the visibility of Burundian specialty coffee worldwide.
Ben Carlson is our partner and exporter in the region. He has been working to develop direct relationships with farmers and producers there, and bring Burundi coffee the international recognition it deserves.
About the our Ngozi Rugabo, Ben says, "This lot was my favorite Ngozi lot and in fact tied as my favorite lot of Burundi this year."
"Rugabo was traditionally favored as a potential speciality location because of the altitude of the hills around the washing station but until this year had been producing good but not the 'wow' cup we'd been shooting for. This year, Rugabo 3 was the first lot that hit above 87 in my cupping."
We are so pleased to be able to offer this coffee and support the excellent work that Ben, the Rugabo Washing Station, and all the coffee producers have contributed. Here's to Burundi!
Photo provided by Sunel Haasbroek