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Inside John’s Selection – Burundi Coffee

The last time we had a look at John’s coffee selection we talked about Rwanda and its history with coffee production. Now we turn our attention to the south to look at our latest source of coffee beans: Burundi.

Burundi is not a name you’ll see a lot about on the normal coffee websites; it just doesn’t get talked about in the same way as bigger coffee producers. That doesn’t mean coffee is not important to Burundi, indeed one in twenty Burundians owe their livelihood to coffee production.

For us, looking to Burundi to expand our range was a natural development. Burundi has a lot in common with its northern neighbour, Rwanda. There are similarities in terrain, crops, processes, and inevitably for such close neighbours, history.

Coffee production began there as a by-product of colonisation. The coffee industry continued after Burundi won its independence in 1962, but the political climate made it hard for it to truly flourish. Initially run by the private sector, later by the state, coffee quality deteriorated and endured massive upheavals because of the civil war in the 1990s.

But, also like Rwanda, the most recent history of Burundi’s coffee industry is a story of recovery with close ties to Burundi’s economic well-being. Through innovation and investment, Burundi has raised the quality of its beans. After an award-winning harvest in 2018, Burundi is now a producer to be watched… and tasted!

John says, “This new coffee is amazing. We think it complements our existing selection, and in particular, if you’re looking for coffee that is rich in body, with bright acidity and delicate flavor, then you should definitely pick up a bag today, order on our webshop or stop by the shop and give it a try.”

The majority of Burundi’s modern crop are Arabica beans of the bourbon variety, farmed by smallholders working plots averaging as few as 200 plants each. The industry employs around 800,000 people working plantings across the mountainous terrain, with farms at a range of different altitudes. The crop is brought to central washing stations where it will often be double washed. The result is a diverse range, making for clean tasting coffee, with a tendency towards sweet fruit flavours and bright acidity.

John adds, “We aim to have the largest African coffee selection in Finland, so I’m always looking for new, great-tasting coffee that we think you’ll love. Expanding our range to include Burundian coffee was just a natural fit. Our mission is also about supporting the coffee producers, and Burundi’s farmers face a lot of similar problems to those in Rwanda. We get to help them and encourage sustainable working conditions, while bringing you truly excellent coffee.”

Now available from John’s Coffee, we have selected a coffee from the Kayanza province, to the north of Burundi near the Rwandan border. It’s roasted a little darker than our regular filter roasts to reduce the acidity, but it’s still bright, clean with a medium body and notes of grapefruit and cherry.