Burundi coffee bears a striking resemblance to that of neighboring Rwanda, in both cup character, and in the culture surrounding coffee. Bourbon-type varietals flourish in both countries and Rwanda has imitated Burundi's traditional practice of wet-processing coffee cherry. Their cup profiles can be dynamic and bright, with red fruits, berry or citrus, and with a great sweetness lingering through the finish. It's no secret that Burundi has the potential to produce great coffee, but unlike Rwanda, sourcing can pose an ever greater challenge.
The Rusamana washing station is located within the Mwaro Province in central Burundi. Mwaro Province is home to Sogestal Kirimiro, part of the greater Sogestal system in Burundi set up to help local farmers with financing, materials, and ultimately connecting them with the global coffee trade. Kirimiro is ranked as on of the best in terms of management and coffee quality - the 6 small lot separations we picked up are a testament to this. Rusamana is situated at about 1650 meters - which isn't an exception, the Mwaro Province in general has really great altitude - and these tiny family farms are planted entirely in Bourbon. The coffee is transported with help from the Sogestal down to the local washing station where it is fully washed, fermented, and sun-dried on pyrimidal beds. A lot of work has gone into separation, especially at the level of washing station, affording an opportunity to not only select much smaller quantities of coffee, but also select high quality lots before they are graded and eventually all bulked together. This lot from Rusamana represents a total of 12 bags.
"Murago" is the name of the washing station where this coffee comes from. This used to be a state owned and run station, but back in 2012 this washing station was purchased by the Kalico Cooperative, a female owned coop operating in the province of Muyinga. The land runs the range of 1600 - 1800 meters, and is planted primarily in Bourbon. The washing station is replete with ten small floatation tanks allowing the coffee to be sorted prior to fermentation. With separate fermentation tanks, the folks at Kalico are able to keep coffees separated throughout the processing stage, allowing them to identify and isolate various qualities.
Murago is a fairly straight forward cup, with the dry fragrance consisting of brown sugar and honey wheat scent, along with an almost cinnamon toast smell to it. The wet aroma is very sweet with a bit of butter and caramel. Light roasts also have a distinguishable note of loose-leaf black tea. This coffee cups best in the City+ - Full City roast range, capturing a more developed sweetness that is lost in super light roast levels. Full City roasts have a fairly 'classic' profile for Burundi coffees. To me, the core of this coffee's flavor profile is built around notes of caramel and a raw sugar sweetness, with slight maltiness you find in minimally processed sugars. Spices like cinnamon and clove come in and out of focus as the cup cools along with a faint flavor of cider. At Full City, the mouthfeel is weighty, like apple juice (similar acidity too), and makes for an all around pleasing cup of coffee. While this may not have the complexity of some of Burundis we've had in the past, it makes up for it in the refined nature of it's flavor profile.