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Steampunk Coffee Roasters

Burundi Seed Specialty Remera

Burundi Seed Specialty Remera

Regular price £11.00 GBP
Regular price Sale price £11.00 GBP
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Region: Kayanza Province
Altitude: 1800-2000masl
Variety: Red Bourbon Mayaguez 139
Processing: Natural


Tasting Notes: This wonderfully clean natural is gently fruity with sweet purple grape and maraschino cherry notes, violet florals and a creamy body.

 

This is the coffee we’re brewing for our milky espresso drinks in our North Berwick cafe. Its creaminess and sweet fruitiness makes it perfect for espresso. It was grown in an area called Remera in Kayanza province. It’s the first lot we’ve bought from Burundi Seed Specialty (BSS), which is part-owned by Zephyrin Banzubaze, a friend of our Head of Coffee, Ludwika Kopczynska. 

It’s exciting to be roasting a coffee produced by folks we know personally and relationships play an important role in specialty coffee, but this coffee also stood out in the several blind cuppings we did to make the buying decision. It is wonderfully sweet with the distinctive gentle fruit we’ve come to know and love in Burundian coffees. The cup quality is a result of careful picking and processing and it speaks to the care and dedication of the farmers and washing station staff who produced it.

The story of how we came to know of BSS and buy this coffee started four or five years ago when we began tasting coffees from Omwani Coffee Importers. Omwani imports coffee from several African origins including Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya and Burundi. In 2022 Ludwika visited Migoti Coffee Company in Bujumbura, from whom we’ve bought several lots. While there she worked closely with Zephyrin, who also manages Migoti’s two washing stations. The two became fast friends and have stayed in touch ever since.

Zephyrin is the finance manager for BSS, which he co-founded with Jeremie Nakimuhana, who is the quality control manager and Juste Picasso Nduwayo, the managing director. Zephyrin and Picasso went to university together, and the three all worked together at Long Miles Coffee, a coffee company operating in several East African origins. In 2017 they bought a piece of land in Kayanza Province, about an hour’s drive north of Bujumbura where Migoti is located, and sowed their first coffee tree. By 2020 they were growing 17,000 trees and today they’ve expanded to about 38,000. 

This large farm is a different model to how coffee is typically grown in Burundi. Most coffee there is produced by smallholders who grow other crops, mostly for food. Three quarters of the population in Burundi lives below the poverty line, so people grow food to survive and grow coffee to make a little money. They cannot rely on the income from coffee to live. 

This environment results in a quality challenge when it comes to coffee, which demands quite a lot of care to grow, pick and process well. The model that BSS uses addresses this challenge through volume. On a large farm it’s possible to manage quality at every stage, from seedling to processing. About 50 percent of the coffee BSS processes is grown on their farm and the other 50 percent is grown by smallholders. To improve the quality of the smallholder coffee they buy BSS invests seedlings and fertiliser and offers training in best practices for growing and picking. 

In addition, combining lots from smallholders with those from a larger farm means that processing can happen at scale, again, aiding in quality control but also decreasing the cost of production and increasing everyone’s margin. Lots can be combined into more exportable and marketable volumes and smallholder farmers benefit from BSS’s link to the international market where their coffee is worth more.

This coffee was processed at BSS’s Umuco washing station, a name that means “light” in Kirundi, the national language in Burundi. This season BSS have also begun processing coffee at a newly built station for washed coffees, a really exciting development. They wanted to produce washed coffees because there’s demand for them in the market. Indeed, as the volume of higher quality coffee from Burundi grows, specialty coffee roasters will be eager to offer this exciting origin to their customers. There’s some great photos on Instagram of both washing stations (@burundiseedspeciality) and the teams who work there. 

In many ways, the story of BSS is one of collaboration, but it doesn’t stop there. We can buy their coffee in the UK because Migoti Coffee Company wanted to recognise and encourage the incredible progress being made by the team at BSS so they assisted in the exporting process. Together with the collaboration of Omwani and Migoti, BSS was able to sell their harvest to roasters in the UK and Europe for the first time this year.

 

A note about packaging

Our coffee comes packaged in beautiful and hard wearing tins. It is important to keep those beans away from air and light (see our blog post about coffee storage) and we think tins are the very best way of keeping those guys fresh. If you order the 1kg refill size, the coffee is packaged in a fully recyclable plastic bag, see the link below for full information on the material and recycling.

Tins can of course be easily recycled (with other metals) but the very best and most environmentally conscious thing to do with them is to refill them. Find out how to refill or dispose of your Steampunk packaging HERE.

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