Delicate, satiny and citric, Burundi coffees are emerging into the market as a selection of high-quality, fresh-tasting coffees from East Africa. Similar to Rwandan coffee with a richer, more floral profile, these double washed beans could fast become your new favorite.
Top Recommended Burundi Coffee
- Country of Origin – Burundi, East Africa
- Regions – Buyenzi, Kirundo, Muyinga, Gitega, and Bubanza
- Best Known Growers – small, independent farmers
- Altitude – 800 to 2,600 meters
- Harvest – March to July
- Milling Process – double washed and fermented
- Aroma – red berries
- Flavor – delicate, brown sugar, black tea, citrus, and dark chocolate
- Body – rich, satiny and clean
- Acidity – winey
- Certification – Single Origin
About the Bean
Bourbon Arabica beans first arrived in Burundi in the 1930s, thanks to the Belgians. Since then it’s spread to regions all over the country, particularly in the North East and on the border with Rwanda. Over the past 70 odd years, there’s been significant political instability meaning that Burundi coffee hasn’t yet taken off in the worldwide market. This is a real shame as Burundi coffee beans are almost always classified as Strictly High Grown and are remarkably delicious.
Burundi beans are very similar in profile to Rwandan coffee beans. As they’re neighboring countries within Africa this is no real surprise. Both countries also adopt the fully washed/double washed milling process that results in the distinctive clean bodies of these coffees. What really sets Burundi beans apart, however, is their single origin distinction and specialties.
Our recommended Burundi coffee bean, for example, is a single origin bean from the Muyinga province. This region with moderately high altitudes and a mild climate is renowned for producing citric notes with floral tones and a well-balanced body. You’ll taste a subtle sweetness akin to brown sugar amidst tamarind, black tea, and red berry flavors.
The best roast for these beans is a medium roast. Too light and you won’t capture the sugary, dark chocolate notes. Too dark and you’ll completely overpower the citrus and floral/fruity notes that can vary from red berries to jasmine. These flavors work well in your French press or simply substituted into your normal Keurig in reusable pods. For espresso-based beverages, you’re better off with a bean that can handle a dark roasting.
Typically, the lower altitudes will produce more chocolatey coffees with hints of nut too. Regardless of the region, you buy coffee from, nearly all of the Burundian coffee is exceptionally high-quality. This is a country that takes pride in growing specialty coffees at every level.
About the Region
The Muyinga region is in North East Burundi near Tanzania. In this region, you’ll find fertile volcanic soils, consistent year-round rainfall, and a mild climate. The average altitude here is 1,800 meters above sea level, which is about average for Burundi overall.
Neighboring regions in North East Burundi, including Ngozi and Kirundo, have produced high scoring coffees as judged by the Cup of Excellence. Given that Muyinga has an almost identical climate, you can expect great things from the coffee grown here.
Farmers in Muyinga tend to grow their own food, using the coffee beans they harvest to supplement their income rather than relying on the trade entirely to survive.
These small farms won’t have more than 300 trees each, yielding just a few sacks of coffee during the harvest time which runs from April to July. This can make tracking the exact origin of your coffee quite difficult as the beans will be processed together at a single mill, but as the popularity of Burundi coffee grows we can expect to find more clarity with certifications and even coffee unions forming in this region.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.