Mbirizi washing station is in Kayanza province, near the border to Ngozi province and gives better access to farmers in the surrounding areas. Farmers can deliver to a sight in their locality instead of walking with heavy bags of cherry to the washing stations. They are paid directly, and the trucks transport the cherry to the washing station where it is processed, in this case at Mbirizi washing station. The producer separates the coffees both by area and date of picking until it's cupped and approved. They also float and hand sort cherries for all premium lots before it is pulped, fermented soaked and dried on raised beds.

This lot has also been dried under shade instead of in full sun, this is a much longer process but we have found it gives the coffee more stability and longer shelf life.

Origin: Mbirizi Washing Stations
Communal smallholder farmers

Mbirizi Washing Station is the second of four washing stations owned by the producer Salum Ramadhan. It was established 2014, with the first production in 2015. Our history with Salum dates back to 2011 and the relationship has worked out great since then. He’s extremely detail oriented, spends a lot of time to train local staff and have a great loyal work force. He’s also having a transport business and is through that managing the domestic coffee logistics well for us. This means that we are always getting our coffees out quickly while they are still fresh. Mbirizi is a communal station in the high altitudes in Kayanza. He’s mainly producing fully washed, but is also experimenting with naturals and shade dried. The coffees are basically all selected daily lots, named by the local area or Collin (hill) where the cherries are purchased. Farms in Burundi are small, often below one hectare each with some hundred trees. This means that a daily lot of e.g. 25 bags of greens can consist of coffee from some hundred growers.

He is systematically separating the coffees based on where they are grown, and by the date of processing. Post-harvest we are cupping through some hundred samples to select the ones we find outstanding. They generally collect cherries from a range of areas with different altitudes, growing conditions etc., and the flavor range is pretty wide spread according to that. The coffees named Mbirizi are from the surroundings of the washing station. Coffees with names like Nyabihanga and Mudusi are coffees grown in other areas, but still processed at Mbirizi.

He’s also investing in social and environmental projects such as education in the local areas, ponds for waste water etc.

Picking and selection

The main harvest will normally start very slowly in March, peak around May (depending on altitude and weather) and end in July. The family members on the small farms are working the land, picking the coffee cherries themselves in the afternoon or on Saturdays. They will then either deliver the cherries to Mbirizi washingstation by foot or bicycle, or to the closest collection points where Salum will have he’s site collector, meaning a representative from Mbirizi washingstation. They are strategically placed in remote areas to buy cherries. The farmers are free to deliver their cherries to anyone offering the highest price. And the competition in this area can be hard. Salum and he’s collectors will communicate with the local farmers on selective picking and sorting. To attract farmers with the best qualities they are constantly paying premiums above the market prices to improve the product.

Cherry reception

Bringing in cherries from the different collection points is expensive as the cost of transport in Burundi is high. Still, it has been good for quality as he have well trained staff, good capacity and infra structure to produce micro lots.

Mbirizi washing stations have strict routines for cherry reception. The coffees are sorted by the farmers at the receiving stations on raised tables, or they even have small flotation tank system for each farmer at delivery. They also have workers dedicated to sort out unripe and over ripe coffees for their special preparation of micro lots. The preprocessing flotation process is to first put the cherries in water tanks. They will then skim off the floaters and give it back to the farmer before the coffees are hand sorted to separate out unripe/half-ripe.

Fermentation, washing and drying

The elevation at the washingstation is high, and climate is cool, meaning it’s easier to control the fermentation time. The traditional fermentation and washing process in Burundi is a lengthy procedure with double fermentation (dry and wet fermentation) before soaking. The double fermentation is a labor dense process that also requires a lot of water, and creates more wastewater. They changed the process to reduce water usage, labor, increase capacity and avoid overfermentation.

They generally do a 12 hour dry fermentation. It’s then graded in washing channels in to 3-4 grades based on density before 12-18 hours soaking time in clean water.

From there it goes to pre drying under shade with handpicking of wet parchment before entering the elevated and sun exposed drying tables. Drying normally takes 15 – 20 days depending on the climate and rainfall. It’s not uncommon with rain during the drying, and they have to be quick to cover up the parchment when they see the clouds are building up.

Coffee Burundi Mbirizi Shade #13
Farmer Various small holders
Variety Red Bourbon
Process Fully washed
Altitude 1900 m
Sourced By Nordic Approach
Region Kayanza
Harvest 2017

Cupping Notes

Rosehip, pomegranate, apple (granny smith)