Looking for specialty coffee qualities around the world, Philippa and I made our way to Rwanda and Burundi in early May to visit various producers, washing stations and exporters at the beginning of the harvest season.
By car we travelled from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, to Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital. After our arrival in Kigali, we left the city behind and drove straight to the coffee regions. Our destinations were various washing stations, including the Abakundakawa washing station, which can be translated as "Coffee Lovers". From the first moment we noticed the dedication and professionalism of the processing.
Rwanda is a relatively stable country. We felt the deep knowledge of coffee and the support the producers receive. The harvest this year is developing well.
We continued south where we met Sam from Bufcoffee, a family business. Together we had an extensive cupping session. Afterwards we visited several smaller coffee regions and were impressed by the commitment Sam and his team have for school and community projects.
A great country that we left behind after three days. Fully-washed, naturals and honey processed coffees, we expect a nice selection of different coffees this season.
We made our way across the border. In Burundi, life seems almost vibrant. Politically, the country is not as stable, but not less interesting. From the beginning we were impressed by the cohesion of the producers. The phrase "For farmers, from farmers", we heard a lot. Organised in cooperatives, they run washing stations and prepare coffee together.
The coffee cherries are pre-sorted before pulping, but also manual sorting of the parchments after the fermentation process continues. These steps ensure a flawless cup and a high-quality flavour profile.
It became clear that the harvest this year will be larger. The washing stations already received large quantities of coffee at the beginning of the harvest and the drying tables are getting fuller and fuller.
We admired the many people we met, including Cassien, a self-made producer and owner of two washing stations. He designed and built them himself. One can recognise his background as an engineer, because not only the washing stations
were highly professional, but also in terms of traceability Cassien designed his own computer program, so that each lot can be traced back to each producer.
In the end, it was not only coffee. We also noticed where we can make a difference, in some cases with a little effort. The topic of project work will also occupy us in the coming weeks and month.
We expect our new arrivals from Rwanda and Burundi in September. If you are interested in such coffees, we look forward to discussing this with you further.