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  • 01 Jun 2017

    Album: Burundi 2017

    posted by Jamie Isetts, Green Buyer

    In May 2017, we had the opportunity to tour, comprehensively, the unique origin of Burundi. Close to our hearts, Burundi is an East African country with massive potential for specialty coffee and a few illustrious producers who are blazing the trail. Much of our trip involved the International Women's Coffee Association (IWCA), whose chapter in Burundi is one of the most effective in the world.

    Burundi has no shortage of memorable experiences awaiting the traveler: we were greeted with a parade of women producers carrying a banner with our name, and saw hippos while eating breakfast. And we visited 10 washing stations, reinforcing older relationships and beginning exciting new ones. Enjoy the captions below for the album, and look forward to these coffees at the beginning of 2018.

    1.  A still morning on Lake Tanganyika, which runs across most of the Western border.

    2.  Welcome to Burundi. A license plate with the country’s flag.

    3.  On the street in the capitol city, Bujumbura.

    4.  Two schoolgirls on their lunch break stopped to pose.

    5.  Incredible cherry selection: consistently ripe and red. Proper cherry selection makes for a better cup quality.

    6.  A farmer waits to receive partial payment for her cherry at Kinyovu washing station, Kayanza Province.

    7.  Kinyovu washing station, Kayanza Province.

    8.  These two women at SIVCA dry mill were killing it on the color coordination.

    9.  SIVCA dry mill, Kayanza.

    10. Old Chinese scales used to weigh parchment, SIVCA dry mill, Kayanza.

    11. A steep drop makes for an excellent view of parchment drying on raised beds at Kirema washing station, Kayanza.

    12. Kirema washing station, one of several wet mills under the umbrella of Sogestal Kayanza.

    13. Each farmer’s delivery of cherry is meticulously recorded, affording excellent traceability for those who are willing to sift through the records. Maruri washing station, Coop Dusangirijambo, Kayanza.

    14. The entrance to the royal palace of Mwami Ntare Rugamba at Gishora field. The structure is composed of tightly woven fibers, like a basket.

    15. The inimitable Gishora drummers performing traditional Burundian drum dance at the birthplace of the ceremony.

    16. Aesthetically pleasing graffiti and prep notes at Mutanga washing station, Gitega Province.

    17. Pyramid drying helps the parchment dry at a slower pace in areas with intense sun, protecting it from cracking.

    18. Wooden fishing boats on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Mountains of the Congo lie on the other side, shrouded in clouds.

    19. Dukorere Ikawa Cooperative, Rmonge province. The climate here is much more tropical and humid, different from the intense sun and dry air of Kayanza.

    20. Members sort parchment at Dukorere Ikawa Cooperative’s washing station.

    21. A candid shot of the organizer of the trip and a key Merit partner, Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian of JNP Coffee.

    22. Seedlings in a nursery at Dukorere Ikawa.

    23. A parting view of the lake on a sunny day.

    24. Mpanga Washing Station: Farmers select out only red cherries on tables provided for this purpose.

    25. Mpanga Washing Station: They then float the cherry in small cement pools. They skim the under-ripe cherries (called “floaters” because they float to the surface) off the top, and then take the sorted cherries out in a mesh container to the wet mill to be processed.

    26. Mpanga Washing Station: After weighing and payment, the cherries are fed through a funnel to the pulper below.

    27. Mpanga Washing Station: The pulper at Mpanga. It is cleaned very thoroughly every day after all cherries are pulped.

    28. Mpanga Washing Station: Parchment flows down a channel based on its density.

    29. Mpanga Washing Station: The mill’s fermentation tanks. Painted blue in the Rwandan style, they are smaller than the average for Burundi, offering more control.

    30. Mpanga Washing Station: A worker turns parchment for an experimental honey process lot.

    31. Mpanga Washing Station: Cherries drying to create the Mpanga Natural.

    32. Mpanga Washing Station: Mpanga built a dry mill last year, meaning they can hull the parchment off the green beans on site. This gives them more control of when their coffee is available to ship to the customer.