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Exploring Burundi single origin coffees

Jeanine in Burundi looking at green coffee beans

Unlike coffee blends, which feature a combination of multiple coffees, single-origin coffees come from one specific country, region, or farm. In the case of micro-lots, like those that we source from Burundi, these might come from a specific plot of land on a farm.


Burundi is an incredible producer of single-origin coffees. Here, smallholder coffee producers strive for quality, consistency, and distinctive flavor profiles. Burundi coffee beans are known for their sweet, clean, and floral flavors.


That’s why more and more specialty coffee roasters are looking to us to source the very best Burundi coffee beans. Let’s explore the appeal and potential of this remarkable country’s single-origin coffees.


JNP Coffee in Burundi looking at dry coffee beans

Getting to know Burundi coffee

Burundi is the perfect place for high-quality coffee production. It’s blessed with high altitudes, rich, volcanic soil and lush rainfall, especially in the coffee-growing regions we source from. These are the Ngozi, Muyinga, Karuzi, and Kayanza provinces.


Even though they’re all in Burundi, each region has its own distinctive characteristics, based on the different terroirs. This refers to the unique combination of temperature, rainfall, climate, soil composition and local agricultural practices. As a result, we’re able to offer coffees with distinctive descriptors and cup profiles for different clients.


Many Burundian coffee producers grow the Bourbon variety, including subvarieties like Jackson, Miburizi and Kent. Even though the majority of these farmers operate on a small scale, coffee remains the country’s second-largest export commodity.


Ngozi province is home to many small-scale farmers, with an average farm size of just 25 – 50 trees. Here, farm workers hand-harvest coffee cherries before naturally processing them. This often creates tasting notes like cooked berries and grapefruit.


Kayanza is a high-elevation region with mild temperatures and a reputation for coffee with high acidity and citrusy notes. These two provinces produce the bulk of Burundi coffee.


Like Kayanza, Muyinga is a high-altitude region in the north of Burundi and it produces various natural and washed coffees, as well. Each of these regions is capable of producing incredible single-origin coffees. However, Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian, Founder of JNP Coffee, explains that there’s more to Burundi than excellent coffee growing conditions.


"Volcanic soil, slopes, cool temperatures, and natural shade –  these are the gifts of the land of coffee in Burundi,” she says. “When the coffee trees are pruned – and the trees are protected with shade fruit trees – this can yield some amazing profiles and also very high-end quality coffees from Burundi."


Coffee Tasting in Burundi

Realizing the potential of Burundi single-origin coffees

Burundi single-origin coffee beans have their own flavor and aroma characteristics. Generally, coffee professionals describe them as sharing bright acidity, fruity flavors and floral notes. However, the final cup profile depends on where the coffee was grown – and the processing method used.


"Commonly used processing methods are washed, natural, and honey,” Jeanine explains. “The biggest difference is natural coffee is dried in the whole cherry, while washed coffee is dried without the cherry.


“This is why natural coffees tend to have a fruitier taste – because the coffee beans come into contact with the fruit for a longer period."


Natural coffees often display a rich and heavy body. JNP Coffee currently offers several interesting examples:


●      Akeza II: stone fruit, passion fruit and citrus flavors

●      Hafi: sparkling acidity with notes of kiwi and pineapple

●      Bavyeyi IV: notable acidity with hints of red hibiscus fruit


All of these single-origin coffees contribute to our Dushime® premium payment program. The initiative pays “second payments” directly to farmers, primarily women, aiming to share the quality premiums associated with high-scoring specialty coffees. To date, the program has paid out over US $500,000 since 2012.


Washed coffee processing is also popular among Burundi coffee producers. Jeanine notes that they usually have a more consistent flavor profile compared to natural beans.


“They are typically lighter-bodied and exhibit complex flavors with brighter and more acidic notes,” she says.


Some of JNP Coffee’s current washed coffees include:


●      Turihamwe: notes of brown spices, lemon rind, and molasses

●      Ubuto: notes of black fig, blackcurrant, and rose

●      Incuti: hints of redcurrant and raspberry

What about other processing methods?

Honey processing is effectively a combination of washed and natural processing. Farmers remove the cherry pulp but leave a layer of mucilage behind. This layer is rich in sugar, helping to further develop the coffee’s flavors.


Each of these methods creates spectacular coffees in their own right. However, specialty coffee roasters can combine them in different proportions to create completely new and unique flavor profiles, creating signature coffee blends.


Different single-origin coffees often complement each other. Not only does this help roasters differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market, but it also brings out the best of Burundi coffee beans.


East African Burundi Coffee Beans

Sourcing the best beans

East Africa is widely known for producing exceptional single-origin coffees and unique micro-lots. The same is true of Burundi coffee beans.


In fact, all JNP Coffee lots are micro-lots of the Bourbon variety. Many are “heritage coffees” meaning they’re free from genetic modification. Furthermore, producers grow them in the shade of banana trees and among cassava plants, corn, beans and tea.


This holistic approach to farming represents a shared commitment to sustainability. Without the hard work of Burundi’s smallholder coffee producers, we wouldn’t be able to guarantee long-term quality and consistency for our customers.


Micro-lots are an excellent way for a small or medium-sized coffee roaster to offer something special and unique. You can source these single-origin lots from our warehouses in Hamburg, Germany, Brugge, Belgium, and New Jersey and Alameda in the US. By doing so, you’ll be supporting Burundi’s coffee producers, strengthening their communities and contributing to a better coffee industry for all.


After all, our mission is to use specialty coffee to transform the lives of coffee producers and their families – especially women. JNP Coffee works closely with over 18,000 farmers, supporting them through the Dushime® initiative and donations to the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA). Recently, we also sponsored two women from Burundi to attend the IWCA’s International Women in Coffee Convention in Ethiopia, where it celebrated its 20th anniversary.


To learn more about how we work to empower women in Burundi, see here. If you’re interested in viewing our latest single-origin coffee lots, see here.


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