For the fourth time we’ve been lucky to secure a great coffee from Buziraguhindwa, which is always welcomed back into our range with open arms! We’ve been buying coffees from Salum in Burundi for the last six years, who has been involved in coffee production since the age of 19. This particular lot processed at the Buziraguhindwa coffee washing station is entirely made up of coffee cherries grown by smallholders from the Manini town of Burundi’s Kayanza Province. Parcels of fruit coming in from distinct locales are kept separate all through the sorting, processing and drying stages, which allows for more involved sampling, cupping and ultimately selections, enabling us to find those real standout gems amongst a lot of really great coffees.
Salum is a beacon for quality driven coffee producers, overseeing not just Buziraguhindwa but also Mbirizi, from which we’ve purchased a small lot this year, and Sehe, Cukiro and Shembati washing stations, upholding the highest standards of cherry reception, processing and drying at each one. He has, in recent years, branched out into other experimental processing and drying methods, for example processing both naturals and honeys as well as the more traditional washed style coffees that Kayanza is known for. He has also begun to dry a certain portion of the highest grades under shaded structures, slowing down the process to gain more control and better preserve the crop for a longer period. As well as great coffee production protocols Salum provides for the community in other ways, keeping bees and several cows at the washing station, provide milk for the workers and organic compost for the farmers delivering their cherry to the station. There is also a nursery, which the farmers can take coffee seedlings from for free. Salum pays a high premium over the going rate for coffee cherries, asking in return for ripe cherry selection, and once the coffee is sold he pays a secondary sum to the farmers.
When we last visited Ngozi where Salum’s coffees are typically dry milled, it was eye-opening to meet the enormous team of close to 1,000, around 80% of whom are women, employed to hand sort the green coffee once it is milled, removing by hand any visible defects before the separate lots of coffee are bagged up ready 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 this year Salum finished 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.
From our selections of this year’s Burundi samples we have already released our Mbirizi shade dried lot, which tastes like apricot, brown sugar and ripe berries. This lot from Buziraguhindwa is a nice counterpoint to the Mbirizi, with much more piercing and clean acidity and tannic structure giving it a crisp, refreshing feel. We often look for coffees that at the very early stage of sampling present a closed, covered character, with potential to open up slowly over time. Sometimes fresh coffees can taste amazing, but this can suggest that they will lose intensity and structure over time, which unfortunately can be accelerated in less than ideal shipping conditions. On our first encounter with this lot we found it to taste quite papery/hay like, with very drying tea like qualities but with hints of what might develop into rosehip and floral notes with a little time. The fruit notes in the coffee are more prominent and the acidity and sweetness have become harmonious. Hard to pronounce but a joy to drink, we’re glad to reintroduce Buziraguhindwa into our range!
A tangy, vibrant cup with hints of lime, whitecurrant and cranberry and a sweetness like strawberries and rosehips. The finish reminds us of sugared violets.