Growing Altitude: 2,000 meters
Harvest Period: March – June
Milling Process: Fully Washed, Dried on Raised Beds
Aroma: Red Currant
Flavour: Red Fruit, Jasmine, Hibiscus
Body: Rich, Creamy
Taste Profile: The sweet and clean flavor along with other characteristics of Burundi coffee has often led to comparisons with the coffees of neighboring Rwanda, particularly in the northern region of Kayanza, where it neighbors on the Rwandan border.
Burundi’s Coffee Growing Regions
Landlocked at the crest of the Nile-Congo watershed, Burundi is a small and very hilly and mountainous country between East Africa and Central Africa, and situated between Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The quality of exported Burundi coffee has been compared to the coffee of its neighbor Rwanda. Other regions in Burundi consist of:
Along Burundi’s western border is the scenic Lake Tanganyika, the country’s lowest point at 772 meters above sea level, and elevations in Burundi rise as high as 2,670 meters at the summit of Mount Heha. The majority of Burundi’s exported coffee qualifies as Strictly High Grown (SHG) / Strictly Hard Bean (SHB).
Burundi Coffee Cultivation
Coffee cultivation in Burundi began in the 1930s when the Belgians brought Arabica coffee plants. Today more than 800,000 Burundi families are involved in coffee growing. These smallholders average about 250 trees each, with most farms producing other crops or livestock as well. Production in the country struggled for some time due to political instability, but exports are beginning to smooth out.
About 25 million coffee plants—mostly of the Bourbon varietal (Coffea arabica var. bourbon)—are being cultivated on more than 60,000 hectares. The average farmer tends from 50-250 coffee plants. There are small quantities of Robusta produced, but the majority is Arabica.
Most of Burundi’s coffee is grown between 1,250 meters and 2,000 meters above sea level and the primary coffee plant varietal grown is Bourbon and the coffee is wet processed. Burundi coffee is often compared to Rwanda coffee in its general cup character.
Green Coffee Farming in Burundi
Political and social turmoil in Congo has had negative effects on neighbouring Burundi’s coffee farming, and the future of coffee farming in the region as well as the availability of premium quality exports remains uncertain. Brokers are still able to get quality green coffee exported from the region and it is available wholesale on the market.
One location known for the farming of coffee as well as palm oil, cotton, rice is Kivu the general name for East Congo, or Kinshasa. Tin and gold are also mined in this region.
Kivu spans over a broad area and borders Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. The three provinces of Kivu are Maniema, Sud-Kivu (South Kivu), and Nord-Kivu (North Kivu) and the region includes Kahuzi-Biega National Park, a section of Maiko National Park, and the Ruwenzori Mountains. Eastern Kivu borders Lake Tanganyika.
Burundi Coffee Roasting
The delicate flavors and balance of the coffee makes this an ideal medium roast – roasting far enough to bring out the flavors without overpowering them with a dark roast or espresso. Buying fresh from specialty craft coffee roasters that import green coffees means you’ll get to experience it at peak flavor – within days of roasting.
Burundi has been featured as part of Starbuck’s Reserve program.
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Also see: Best Coffees In the World
Burundi Coffee and Espresso Brewing Tips
For tips on brewing the perfect cup of Burundi coffee see the Espresso Coffee Guide’s section on Coffee Brewing.