First of all I want to announce that we have 9 fantastic micro lots on their way. They are from different micro regions in the Kayanza area, and are all processed at the wet mill Buziraguhindwa, owned by the producer Salum Ramadhan.
Most of the coffees are a result of an improved preparation the producer calls COE-prep, meaning he will do the same cherry sorting and quality control as he would for coffees delivered to Cup of Excellence. The coffees are named after the area the cherries are collected in, as Salum select and separates the coffees based on region as well as cherry quality.
The first 4 places in Cup of Excellence this year was from that same region, and it is not coincidental in my opinion. We were lucky enough to get the chance to cup the top 10 table at the competition in Burundi and some of these coffees as well as the ones we bought from Salum are truly standouts and proofs that Burundi have tons of potential to produce world class coffees.
The coffees are on the way now and are all picked in May/June.
Still, this year was kind of challenging for some producers. Burundi (and Rwanda) normally has a bi-annual cycle and this was the low yielding year. This also means that the cup quality can be great, but it will be less to choose from and though to get good cherries to process for some producers. Some of the Cooperatives we intended to work with hardly had any production at all. When the volumes are low it can unfortunately be hard to get high quality cherries in areas where there is many competitors and wet mills.
In Burundi almost all the producers depend on buying cherries from independent small holders that surrounds the local communal or private wet mill. There will always be producers and exporters around that have already contracted shipment of certain amount of exported green coffees. Meaning, when the crop is low they are desperate to get enough volume, and they don’t get picky on the cherry quality. This again means that if you are a producer that does care and tells the farmer that he will only buy good and ripe cherries, the farmer will just go to the neighbor that he knows doesn’t care and will pay the same for low quality and poor picking as he is desperate for coffee.
We were unfortunately not able to get coffees from Mpemba and Dusangirijambo this year, as a result of a very small crop and some quality issues. Still, we will hopefully continue to buy from them next year as we expect it to be easier to get a broader selection of lots to choose from.
We are also initiating a new relationship with another great producer in Kayanza, called Ephrem, who is just now constructing a new wet mill. His family have an organic farm with coffee, vegetables, fruit and cows. He has been in coffee for 30 years and knows very well what he’s doing. We cupped some trials from him this year that were truly amazing, and if we are lucky we will get some small amounts of this coffee in together with a late shipment.
Nevertheless, despite some challenges we are proud of the coffees we have bought this year, and are sure they will be appreciated by both the roasters and consumers out there.