As LCM’s Melbourne team eagerly awaiting the arrival of three distinctive coffees: Mbrizi Gatara, Sehe Cibitoke (FW) and Sehe Cibitoke (W) into LCM’s Melbourne warehouse later this month, we turn the spotlight on East African coffee origin Burundi.
Located approximately 1,200 – 2,100 metres above sea level, tiny mountainous Burundi typically harvests March to July, producing varieties such as Bourbon, and Bourbon cultivars like Jackson and Mibirzi.
“There’s really no such thing as a “typical Burundian coffee,” says Guy Wilson, LCM’s Business Manager. “Geographic differences between the five main growing regions and processing methods, all have a significant impact on the flavour profile.”
“Widely used for single origin espresso and filter, juicy berry and fig flavours will often prevail, but the incoming Bourbon lots are also cupping with notes of black cherry, plum, chocolate, strawberry and toffee (Mbrizi Gatara); green apple, orange, floral, lime and nougat (Sehe Cibitoke FW), and tropical fruits, raspberry, green grape, winey, honey (Sehe Cibitoke N 30kg)
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After gaining independence in 1962 Burundi has endured almost constantly political instability, contributing to the country’s poor economic state. Only 13% of the population live in urban centres making agriculture, and in particularly coffee, extremely important to their GPD.
In 2008 the government allowed coffee to enter the private sector with the establishment of The Regulatory Authority of the Coffee Sector (ARFIC) and Intercafe Burundi.
Coffees are predominantly managed by co-ops or privately owned washing stations and are largely grown within five regions: Buyenzi, Kirimiro, Mumirwa, Bweru, and Bugesera.
While many African countries produce coffee, most is bulk supply.
Specialty-grade coffee is concentrated in East Africa and some of the most distinctive lots comes from Burundi, known for juicy acidity, berry and fig flavours.
Flavour will depend too on the processing method: Burundi growers often fully wash seeds, soaking both during fermentation and afterward. This method promotes a clean taste, whereas the natural Burundians coffee can be very sweet, and bold with a good amount of winey quality.