At first, the title may have seemed weird; “Burundi.” What could that be? And what does it have to do with our beloved drink? Well, all of these questions are perfectly valid and need an answer to them if you want to be knowledgeable in the world of coffee.
So, what do you need to know about the connection between these two?
Burundi is a place
This is the core of it all. Burundi is an African country, situated right in the center of the continent. It is one of the smallest nations of Africa and not well known at all. Hence why you didn’t know about this place before.
Regarding coffee, we need to know about the soil, elevation, and the weather.
Much of the country’s soil is infertile, unfortunately. This happened because of deforestation and overpopulation. People destroyed the nature around them to try and keep up with their numbers, but that resulted in vast pieces of land being unusable. Thankfully though, the nation tries to preserve what’s left, and now about 52.6% of the available land is being used for agriculture (1,351,000 hectares or 3,338,000 acres).
This is only being done because of necessity, though, as 90% of people in Burundi depend on agriculture for a living.
The soil that remains fertile is great as it’s full of nutrition that every plant needs, which, of course, includes coffee. There is a ton of nitrogen in the ground that is crucial for anything that wants to do photosynthesis. We won’t explain the whole process, as it’s full of pretty complicated chemistry. But we can safely say that without this nitrogen, the coffee from Burundi wouldn’t be that treasured as it currently is.
The average elevation is 1,707 m or 5,600 ft. But this doesn’t tell us much, as we need specific statistics to determine what the elevation will do to the coffee. Let’s talk about the exact areas that grow coffee. There are 12 regions.
- Cibitoke – 915 m or 3002 ft
- Bubanza – 1200 m or 3900 ft
- Kayanza – 1957 m or 6421 ft
- Ngozi – 1820 m or 5970 ft
- Kirundo – 1383 m or 4537 ft
- Muyinga – 1731 m or 5679 ft
- Karuzi – 1614 m or 5295 ft
- Mwaro -1975 m or 6480 ft
- Muramvya – 1895 m or 6217 ft
- Bururi – 1836 m or 6024 ft
- Makamba – 1472 m or 4829 ft
- Kirimiro – 1938 m or 6358 ft
We can very clearly see that Burundi doesn’t like growing its coffee at low altitudes. Rightfully so. We all know that coffee grown at higher altitudes has a more complex, intense flavor with some prized aromas like floral, fruity, and even spicy. And of course, these coffees are also higher quality than those grown at lower altitudes.
So if we only take the elevation factor into account, then Burundi is starting pretty well.
Burundi has a tropical highland climate, just what we would expect from an African country. But even that can’t describe the entire region accurately, as the difference in altitudes changes the average weather pretty easily.
The highest mountain areas average out to be around 16° C or 60° F. This is good enough for coffee growing, but the farmers tend to keep their plantations off the highest peaks, as they could easily freeze. Plus, the plants don’t always get direct sunlight if they are kept at the sides of the mountains. That could dry them out and kill them in no time.
The rain is pretty irregular, though, so the farmers have to save it up and use it later if they don’t want their plants dying. Mainly because of the prolonged drought periods. These can easily last for months, where there might not be any rainfall. This makes farming coffee a tough job, and a lot of farmers struggle with this aspect.
What makes coffee from Burundi special?
Honestly, it’s just a growing trend right now.
The thing is: the only thing that made Burundi coffee famous is the sudden growth of exportation from the country to neighboring nations. People from America and Europe saw this as a sign of the country having good coffee, and they started buying it like crazy. Just because of this one simple thing.
So if you are looking for the specialty of this coffee, then you might be disappointed because it doesn’t have many unique traits to offer. Don’t let that fool you, though. We aren’t trying to talk you out of having a cup. We want you to remember that this isn’t a miracle coffee and not a treasure hidden in a small country in Africa.
It’s an above-average coffee that was promoted because it was trending. That’s it.
What is Burundi coffee like?
Now that’s a question we can’t answer for sure. There are way too many different regions, altitudes, and climate segments within the country to state anything as a fact. But we’ll try our best to inform you about all of it.
One of the most famous coffee brands from Burundi comes from Kayanza. Surprising? Not so much. It’s one of the highest coffee farming regions in the country. Therefore, we should expect something of high quality. And we do that rightfully so, and we won’t be let down.
Let us begin with the aroma. It’s a red currant. It has a bit of sweetness and sourness to it that will draw you right in for your first sip. But it won’t overwhelm you, as the bitterness is right there in the background to remind you that you are drinking coffee, not fruit juice. Once the coffee hits your tongue, you will need to take a second. The dark chocolate will hit you first, which will be even more intense if you feel up the rich and creamy body of the coffee. It will overwhelm your mouth with sweetness and some slight bitterness. Then will come the red fruit as a release from the intense flavors, slowly leading you to the taste of hibiscus and jasmine. Once you swallow, you will feel some very minimal floral notes.
This coffee is truly majestic, and we highly suggest it to any coffee lover who is up for something new, but not outrageous.
This region is one of the biggest and produces a considerable amount of coffee. Only Arabica coffee ends up as high quality because of their origin and the altitude as well.
The description tells us that it’s a medium-light roast, has a heavy body and tastes like lemon, black tea with hints of spiced clove with a nutty finish. Sounds pretty great, right? Even our mouths started to water as we read these words, but the reviews made it even better.
People talk about the fact that you can’t ruin this coffee’s taste, no matter how strong you make it. The bitterness will never be the main flavor, and it will remain in the background even if you try to force it to come out. Many people like this coffee because of the slight sweetness that isn’t over the top and that this drink doesn’t try to make up for the lack of intensity with a worse taste.
We highly recommend this to people who have a sweet tooth but don’t like to put tons of sugar in their coffee. This one tastes perfect without any additives and will satisfy your thirst for coffee easily.
Kayanza is genuinely one of the only regions that ships all over the world, and that offers high-quality coffee. But this one is exceptional, so we would recommend it anyway.
Like many coffees from high altitudes, this one is also advertised as being fruity and sweet. But this one delivers with full force. At first, you will be hit by the aroma of honey. This will be quite intense, so if you get sick from overly sweet smells, then we don’t recommend sniffing in the bag. It has a vibrant and powerful aroma that will overwhelm you quite quickly. But the first sip will be the special part. You will feel the taste of all kinds of red berries. Some more intense than others, but relevant nonetheless. The finish will taste a little bit like hazelnut and will go down smoothly.
All in all, this is a coffee that is worth to try once at the very least. (A review mentioned that this became their favorite after years of trying new coffee!) So even if you aren’t convinced, it still might be worth a try. After all, you can get small 8 ounce bags that will run out quite quickly, and you won’t lose too much by buying them.
We recommend this coffee to those who are in love with fruity drinks. If that’s your thing, then this might be your new favorite.
Final word: Burundi and coffee
Burundi coffee might not be all that special, mainly after we have discussed all the reasons why it could be and why it remains average. However, you can still find exceptions that will surprise and amaze you.
Find your favorite and bottoms up!
Have you ever tried coffee from Burundi before? How was the experience? Tell us down in the comments below!