This is the first of a trilogy. Over the next three months we’ll be roasting and profiling coffees from three often overlooked origins in Africa. We just received this years harvest and we are here to tell you these coffees are shattering preconceptions with their exceptional quality.
It’s hard sometimes to disregard the naysayers when you’re presented with a whole world of coffee and have to choose a winner. I recognize that, even as a coffee roaster, I may have discounted the quality of coffee from Burundi in the past due to a lack of reputation for specialty grade products. Burundian coffees have reached my tasting table for the past four harvests during my time at La Colombe, but I haven’t been able to see through my prejudice to love these coffees for what they are until an extraordinary naturally-processed offering arrived at the roastery this year.
For the non-geographically savvy majority, the word Burundi holds very little meaning. One of the most economically depressed countries in the world, Burundi is located in southeastern Africa in what is known as the African Great Lakes region. This region is home to the 2nd and 3rd largest lakes on earth but is also inhabited by a long history of political and economic turmoil.
Farmers in the mountainous region of Kayanza tend, on average, less than one acre each. Selling the product of their land supports each homestead and the work of cultivating and harvesting is the responsibility of the entire family. As a coffee roaster, I feel honored to be part of a process that is a way of life for producers and their family and respect how much an accomplishment the Kayanza Natural means to them.
And really Kayanza means so much to me. It’s finally THAT coffee. The one that overcame my bias and opened my eyes to the progress and incredibly diligent work that producers in Burundi are displaying in cultivation and processing.
Like that one song you heard from the artist you hated your whole life. After you’ve heard it you wonder why you were so resistant and regret how many years of enjoyment you’ve denied yourself in not listening to every banger they ever produced. Hopefully, after a few sips, maybe you’ll feel a little bit of the same embarrassment, humility, and pride I experienced in my Burundian awakening.
You can find Burundi available online.
Next month: Malawi…
Written by our head Workshop Roaster, Hugh Morretta