Although Burundi has been growing coffee for decades, and the facilities to process great tasting coffees were already establish, great-tasting coffee arriving here in the US is a recent development. This was mainly because the coffee industry was state-controlled until just a few years ago, with little-to-no separation for quality.
When the government changeover for coffee practices happened in 2007, we kept our eyes peeled, and, two-and-a-half years later (September 2010), we were the first to recognize the potential of a company called the Coffee Processing Company (CPC). At first, the owners, Ramadhan Salum and Aime Charles Buhire wanted to set up a dry mill to process coffee, but instead they decided to start with a few small 2 hectare farms and a small washing station named Buziraguhindwa. The washing station at Buziraguhindwa, owned by CPC, was completed in the spring of 2010.
At this point, we have worked every year with CPC and the Buziraguhindwa washing station, with moments of great success and a few challenges along the way. This past year, though, was by far the best year. Ramadhan, the owner, along with the washing station manager, Silas, was able to deliver the best cherry selection we have seen anywhere in Burundi and refined the processing to exemplary standards. The future of this coffee has no limits, and we are convinced that Ramadhan is setting the bar for quality and innovation in Burundi. This particular lot of Natural Sundried was a revelation last year, and, again, we feel like it is even better this year.
In Burundi, this type of processing had never been done or exported before our lot last year. This coffee is so unusual that coffee industry people in Bujumbura, Burundi, called this type of preparation “Ramadhan coffee” after the owner. Much of this particular lot of coffee was produced later in the harvest season to avoid the rain and was dried in the thinnest, most-even layers we have seen anywhere in the world. This practices ensures faster, more-even drying—which reduces the sour notes and the off flavors you can get from this type of processing.
Coffee Processing Company (CPC) is a private company owned by Ramadhan Salum. He owns a few hectares of coffee in different locations around Kayanza and the Buziraguhindwa washing station. Ramadhan is the sole owner and he is working towards more transparent systems—with the help of producer associations in the area around Buziraguhindwa—and, like last year, committed to paying 20% more than average for the coffee cherry he receives.
In 2012, Counter Culture and CPC were able to fund the building of 3 classrooms in the immensely overcrowded school that is right next to the washing station. Our hope for the future is that the 13 Associations (260 members) continue to grow and, eventually, include everyone (around 2,000-3,000 producers) who turns in coffee to the washing station. The long-term goal is that the associations become a fully registered cooperative and can work more as equal partners with CPC and Counter Culture.
Explanation of the Name
Buziraguhindwa is the name of the Colline (hillside) and village that the washing station was built it. Most washing stations, especially in East Africa, are named in this fashion. Buziraguhindwa roughly means "never retreat." This hillside is famous for warriors who lived here long ago. Buzira "never" guhindwa (guhinda : infinitive) "make someone go back"
Kayanza is a province in the Northwest of Burundi, and, for Counter Culture, has always had the best coffees we have tasted from the country. This area is not only known for coffee, but also for its tea production.
Buziraguhindwa itself is one of the highest areas in the country for coffee production, with the washing station sitting right at 1,896 meters. This area is also right off the Kibira National Park, which is home to all sorts of wildlife—including monkeys and birds—and has been a forest preserve for almost 100 years.
Varieties: Bourbon, Mbirizi, Jackson
Elevation: 1,900 meters
Post-Harvest Process: Natural Sundried
Harvest Time: April 2014 – July 2014