Burundian Coffee Makers Introduce Finest Coffee to Japanese Market

It was a pleasant surprise for me to know that Burundi, once a war-torn country in Africa, was also one of the best coffee producers in the world. Today, I got a chance to visit Burundi Coffee Exporters Association booth at SCAJ World Specialty Coffee Conference & Exhibition being held at Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center.

All the coffee exporters from Burundi I met with, had a keen interest in exploring the Japanese coffee market and establishing business relationships with Japanese coffee importers. Given the size of the coffee market in the country,  we told them that they could establish mutually beneficial business relationships with the Japanese companies if they worked hard to understand the coffee culture in Japan and the ways to market a high-quality coffee in the country.

Burundian Coffee Makers Introduce Finest Coffee to Japanese Market

What is So Special About Burundian Coffees?

I wanted to address this very question in greater details. So, I sat with these Burundian coffee makers to explain to me a bit about what is so special about Buruundian coffees.

Burundi’s volcanic soil and approximate 1,200 mm of rainfall a year create a great environment for growing coffee. Volcanic soil is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen, which coffee plants need, and tends to hold water well.

Ephrem Sebatigita, a Q grader with more than 30 years in the coffee industry, tells me that there are two “parameters” that characterize Burundian coffee. First of all, there’s “the different varieties, like Bourbon and its different sub varieties (Jackson and Blue mountain).” The Bourbon variety is known for its great sweetness and body.

Then there are the different regions. “Indeed,” Ephrem says, “there are different areas that are good for the coffee trees and crops. The Buyenzi area, mainly, the north, north east, and the center are better…”

These are the most well-known coffee-growing regions in Burundi. However, you’ll also find good coffee in lesser amounts in some southern regions of Burundi, such as Buragane as well.

What’s more, you have Burundi’s processing methods. Coffee in Burundi – like other East African countries – is often double washed/double fermented. This is a unique processing method that results in very clean, bright flavor profiles.

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