Marking our seventh year working with Salum Ramadhan, since we bought and roasted the 2013 harvest of Buziraguhindwa, this is our first ever lot from one of Salum’s newer washing stations, Shembati, which was established in 2016.
For the last few years, lots from Mbirizi and Buziraguhindwa have become staples in our ever-changing coffee line up, named for two of Salum’s other washing stations. An entrepreneurial coffee producer, Salum has been working with coffee since the age of 19, and is always looking to evolve, improve and expand his production. He has employed a young man named Aime Patrick as the site manager at Shembati station, who oversees the reception and processing of, on average, 700 tonnes of coffee cherries each season. Parcels of fruit come in from distinct locales, typically named for the colline (hill) the community live on, and are kept separate by locale and harvest date, all through the sorting, processing and drying stages. This allows for more involved, granular sampling and cupping, enabling us to pinpoint the standout gems amongst a lot of really great coffees. This particular lot was produced by smallholder farmers living in the Butanganzwa colline.
In return for selective picking, resulting in more uniform and ripe fruit, Salum pays a premium for the coffee cherries delivered to Shembati. After they are sorted and weighed, the cherries are floated to remove light, damaged and unripe cherries, before they are fed through a traditional disc pulper to remove the skins. They then ferment, without water added, for around 12 hours before being fully washed and graded in long washing channels. The clean parchment then spends between 12 and 18 hours under clean water to soak before going out to be hand sorted during the initial skin-drying phase. It is then ultimately put out under the sun across 200 drying beds. Some drying beds are multi-tiered, meaning that the parchment spends some time drying in partial shade, slowing down the process and preserving the coffee for a longer period.
As well as great coffee production protocols Salum works with the community in other ways, keeping bees and several cows at the washing station, providing milk for the workers and organic compost for the farmers. There is also a nursery, which the farmers can take coffee seedlings from for free.
When we last visited Ngozi where Salum’s coffees are dry milled, it was eye-opening to meet the enormous team of close to 1,000 people employed to hand sort the green coffee once it is milled, removing any visible defects before the separate lots of coffee are bagged up for export. In some countries this kind of sorting is done via mechanical optical- sorters, but at SIVCA in Burundi it is all done by hand. Power shortages are a frequent, disruptive occurrence in Burundi, and Salum has been working for the last couple of years on building his own dry mill and cupping lab complete with a generator, so as to have a more reliable infrastructure for separating and grading distinct lots of coffees. Witnessing the enormous effort and hard graft going into producing such a special product really humbles us when we’re roasting a batch or brewing a cup of Salum’s coffee. We hope you also enjoy this lot from Shembati washing station!
Butanganzwa, Kayanza, Burundi
Intense & wild, expect waves of tart rhubarb & blackcurrant alongside sweet, caramelised apple. A floral finish reminds us of hibiscus tea.