Coffee was a cash crop during Burundi's time as a Belgian colony, with exports mainly to the European market or for consumption by Europeans in other colonies. During this time, Burundian farmers were forced to grow a certain number of coffee trees for very low pay. After Burundi gained its independence in the 1960s the coffee sector was privatized but the bad experience farmers had endured resulted in little appetite to continue farming with many plants being torn up or abandoned.
During the 1990s the country was devastated by civil-war, almost destroying the local economy. Gradually the coffee sector emerged as a possible means to recover the agrarian sector and increase foreign trade. Inspired by successes seen in Rwanda, Burundi's coffee industry saw an increase in both private and state-owned coffee facilities creating stability and opportunity during the first decade of the 2000s. Such investment has helped establish Burundi as an emerging African coffee-growing country despite its small size and tumultuous history.
Burundi has suffered with "potato defect", a microorganism that contributes a raw potato-like flavor and aroma to infected beans. Efforts to eradicate the defect completely have shown promise.
The large number of small farms, less than a single hectare, prevalent in Burundi results in many microlots being produced. Farmers harvest their cherries and deliver them to centralized depulping and washing stations. As a result, it is almost impossible to arrive at single-producer, single-farm, or single-variety lots and coffees are sold under the washing station's brand rather than that of the farmer.
The typical processing method in Burundi uses a “dry fermentation” of roughly 12 hours after depulping, followed by a soak of 12–14 hours in mountain water. Coffees are floated to sort for density, then soaked again for 12–18 hours before being dried in parchment on raised beds.
Gitega, Karuzi, Kayanza, Kirundo, Muyinga, Ngozi
Bourbon, French Mission Bourbon, Jackson, Mibirzi
Washed, some Natural
March - July