Coffee farming and production began in Burundi in the early 1900s under Belgian colonial rule, when farmers were forced to grow coffee and sell to the state for export primarily to Europe. The sector was privatised in the 1960s, followed by state control from 1976 to 1991, and then a new wave of privatisation beginning in 1991. After the civil war in the 1990s, coffee has slowly emerged as a means to rebuild the agrarian sector and to increase foreign exchange, with an increase in investment and a somewhat healthy balance of both privately and state-run coffee companies. However, following the political crisis of 2015 and the subsequent economic crash, the coffee sector has struggled to meet the expectations and potential to stimulate the economic growth of Burundi.
Burundi is among the smallest coffee-producing countries in East Africa, with a population of 10.5 million, and endowed with ideal conditions for coffee production: elevations of 1500 – 2000 masl, Arabica Bourbon coffee trees, abundant rainfall, and approximately 800,000 families who cultivate an average of 150-200 coffee trees per farm. Arabica coffee now represents virtually 100% of Burundi’s national production, and the bourbon variety grown at high elevations in Burundi is characteristically “sweet with bright acidity, big body, floral, citrus and spiced with wild notes.” Over the past 25 years, coffee production in Burundi has averaged 26,700 tons per year.
Migoti Coffee has its base of operations in Mutambu Commune of Bujumbura Province, Burundi where we operate the coffee washing station we built in 2016. The washing station has a capacity of over 1000 tons of cherries per season, producing fully washed, honey and natural coffee using a 3-disk pulper and raised drying beds. The coffee in this region is the red bourbon cultivar of the Arabica varietal, grown on different hills around the Migoti station at altitudes of 1600-1950 masl. The Migoti station is located at 1850 masl (3°31’54.4″S 29°25’24.7″E), perched high in the mountains above Lake Tanganyika to the east, in the Mumirwa region of Burundi – a narrow and steep highland region running north-south along the continental divide. The soil in the coffee farming community contains sand, loam and clay.
Since 2016, Migoti Coffee has worked with the surrounding community to restore the coffee production after years of neglect due to war and insecurity, planting tens of thousands of new trees in the past four years. Coffee trees are owned by the local farmers, who maintain micro- plantations on their family land on the hills surrounding the Migoti washing station. Migoti collects and purchases coffee cherries directly from over 700 coffee farmers, who own as few as 25 trees or as many as 1500 trees on their family land. Over 500 tons of green coffee was produced and exported by Migoti Coffee in the four past coffee seasons. The exported coffee has consistently received excellent cupping scores, frequently placing it as some of the best specialty coffee coming from Burundi.
The washing station is operated by a local team of ten permanent staff and over 250 temporary workers who are employed during the coffee season from March to June. The station manager, Zephyrin Banzubaze (see photo), is responsible for managing all the staff, to train coffee farmers, receive and select coffee cherries, process the coffee, oversee the coffee drying process, store and mill the dry parchment coffee and prepare the final green coffee for export. The majority of the temporary staff are women, who work mainly on the raised drying tables, regularly turning the coffee as it dries and removing defective beans that compromise the coffee quality. Migoti also assists farmers through ongoing education to prune and properly care for coffee trees, intercrop, plant shade trees, utilise green fertilisers, stabilise soils and use natural pest control. Our expectation is that by following best farming practices the farmers can increase the yields from their coffee trees by five- to ten-fold.
As of March 2021, the Migoti census of all the farmers who provide coffee to them. Murambi Hill there are 174 farming families with a total of 74,566 trees. Many of the farmers intercrop growing edible plants that have wide leaves, as well as banana trees. These plants keep the weeds down, help keep moisture at the base of the trees, provide shade to the coffee and also feed their families. Coffee trees are grown on steep slopes of the hills. The steep slopes promote water run off and good drainage.
Details of Burundian Murambi Hill
|Region:||Murambi, Bujumbura Rural Province, Burundi|
|Number of Farmers:||174 – with a total of around 74,566 coffee trees|
|Harvest:||Main crop: June – August (2021). Arrived in May 2022|
|Processing:||Fully washed, with 12 hours wet and 16 hours dry fermentation. Dried in the sun on raised beds for around 21 days.|
|Altitude:||1,800 masl (average)|
|Packaging:||GrainPro in Hessian|
|Cultivars:||Arabica Red Bourbon|
|Characteristics:||A four-star complexity medium-full bodied coffee, with berry sweetness and black tea after-taste.|
|Roast used:||Soak bump, kick and straighten roast with a 40 seconds development time. This lighter roast promotes the fruit flavour note.|
|Sourced from||Migoti via Sevenoaks Trading|
|FOB price||U$D3.20 per pound|
|Producer / Organisation||Migoti coffee co-operative|
|Lot size bought||2 x 60kg bags|
|Relationship||We have a working relationship with Dan Brose, the owner of Migoti since 2019. This is our fourth season dealing with Dan, who visits us when he is in Cape Town.|
From Dan Brose – Migoti coffee
- Migoti documentation on Migoti coffee and Murambi Hill
- Sevenoaks Murambi Hill documentation