January – Coffee of the Month~ Ikawa Burundi


January 12, 2014 by beanerbar


Single-Community Lot
The tiny village of Buziraguhindwa has built quite a reputation for quality, considering the washing station is only a few years old, and Burundi itself isn’t exactly the most famous coffee-growing origin. Ramadhan Salum, one of the owners, separated coffee from the growers around the washing station and one other community exclusively for Counter Culture. These lots tend to be our favorites – with refined and complex flavors of nectarine, date, and citrus

Although Burundi has been growing coffee for decades and the facilities to process great-tasting coffees were already established, great-tasting coffee arriving in the US is a recent development. This was mainly due to the fact that the coffee industry was state-controlled until just a few years ago, with little to no separation for quality. With that coming to an end we knew this was a country on the verge of great change, and since, have been working closely with farmers, millers, and traders in Burundi to discover the greatness these coffees can posses.
When the government changeover for coffee practices happened in 2007, we kept our eyes peeled and two-and-a-half years later, we were the first to recognize the potential of a company called the Coffee Processing Company (CPC). At first, the owners, Ramadhan Salam and Aime Charles Buhire, wanted to set up a dry mill to process coffee, but instead they decided to start with a few small 2-hectare farms and a small washing station named Buziraguhindwa. The washing station at Buziraguhindwa, owned by CPC, was completed in the Spring of 2010.
At this point, we have worked every year with CPC and the Buziraguhindwa washing station, with moments of great success and a few challenges along the way. This past year, though, was by far the best year. Ramadhan, the owner, along with washing station manager Silas, were able to deliver the great cherry selection and refined the processing to exemplary standards. We worked together and purchased two separate lots from the washing station this year. The first lot we will offer is the coffee from the farmers in the village of Buziraguhindwa that carry their coffee cherry to the washing station, and the second is coffee processed at the Buziraguhindwa washing station, but comes from the community of Mbirinzi that is delivered by truck. The future of this coffee has no limits and Ramadhan, we are convinced, has and will continue to set the bar for quality and innovation in Burundi.

Group’s History

Coffee Processing Company (CPC) is a private company owned by Ramadhan Salam and Aime Charles Buhire. They own a few hectares of coffee and the Buziraguhindwa washing station. Ramadhan and Aime are the sole owners, but they are working towards more transparent systems with the help of producer associations in the area around Buziraguhindwa and, this year, committed to paying 20% more than average for the coffee. Counter Culture and CPC also were able to fund the building of three classrooms in the immensely overcrowded school that is right next to the washing station. Our hope for the future is that the thirteen associations (about 260 members) continue to grow and, eventually, include everyone (around 2,000-3,000 producers) who turns in coffee to the washing station.

Explanation of the Name

Buziraguhindwa is the name of the colline (hillside) that the washing station is situated on. Most washing stations, especially in East Africa, are named in this fashion. Buziraguhindwa’s translation roughly means “never retreat.” This hillside is famous for warriors who lived here long ago. Buzira “never” guhindwa (guhinda : infinitive) “make someone go back.”


Kayanza, Burundi

Kayanza is a province in the Northwest of Burundi, and, for Counter Culture, has always had the best coffees we have tasted from the country. This area is not only known for coffee, but also know for its tea production.
Buziraguhindwa itself is one of the highest areas in the country for coffee production, with washing station sitting right at 1,896 meters. This area is also right off the Kibira National Park, which is home to all sorts of wildlife – including monkeys and birds – and has been a forest preserve for almost 100 years.
Most farmers are small and ranging around 1-2 hectares. Not much shade exists now, mainly just eucalyptus. Most farmers are growing fruits and vegetables, notably potatoes. Lots of tea is being grown in the area as well, especially around Buziraguhindwa.
Burundi also suffered from terrible civil war in the 90s alongside Rwanda. The recovery in Burundi has taken longer, however. When we first traveled to Burundi in 2007, there was still violence happening in different parts of the country, and Burundi was considered a very dangerous place to travel.
In the coffee sector, because of the privatization the coffee market and the work of the USAID project in Burundi, the coffee market has radically changed over the last five years. New washing stations are being built by private owners, old government washing stations have been sold, cooperative are being established (like Kazoza NIkawa), and farmers today can receive premiums for the coffee that they sell – where in the past this was not possible. The major obstacle from Burundi like many African coffee producing countries is logistics.
Burundi is also land-locked, so it relies on the port of Dar-es-salaam in Tanzania and Mombasa which are both regularly backed up, delaying the shipments of coffee around the world which causes huge losses in coffee quality. Counter Culture knows this is the major issue for these coffees and has worked extraordinarily hard make sure the logistics are perfect for this coffee to arrive in pristine shape.


Lot Specifics: Buziraguhindwa community
Variety: Bourbon Types
Elevation: 1,900 meters
Post-Harvest Process: Washed; dry- then wet-fermentation. Dried on raised beds.

Harvest Time: April- July 2013

One thought on “January – Coffee of the Month~ Ikawa Burundi

  1. Kristy says:

    Great to hear about what others are doing in Burundi! Thanks for the post.

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