Burundi - Kibingo

Notes: Black tea, apple, honey cherry and lemon. Sweet bright medium acidity body.

Region: Kayanza        
Owners: 3 ,515 smallholder farmers working with Greenco Coffee
Altitude: 1700 - 1900 MASL
Process: Fully Washed  
Varietal:  Red Bourbon

Context

Kibingo washing station is in the commune of Kayanza in northern Burundi. The station itself sits 1,893 meters above sea level. The altitude of the farms in the neighboring hills that supply the washing station varies from 1,700 to 1,900 meters above sea level. Kibingo serves 3,515 registered coffee growers, spread over 18 hills in the area. All producers registered at a Greenco washing station are organized in groups of 30 people, headed by a farm leader. This leader acts as a spokesman to facilitate communication and organization with the washing station.
The washing station is equipped with 10 fermentation tanks, 2 soaking tanks and a drying field with 165 drying tables and 4 pre-drying tables. Kibingo can process 750,000 kg of cherry per day. At the washing station, farmers can obtain organic fertilizer from composted coffee pulp. To promote farm renovation, producers can get low-cost, subsidized coffee seedlings at the washing station. Each station has its own nursery for this purpose. The washing station participates in a number of farmer outreach and support projects including a livestock rearing project and a range of Farmer Hub projects centered on strengthening cooperatives and improving yields.

Most coffee trees in Burundi are Red Bourbon for reasons of quality. Because of the increasingly small size of coffee plantings, aging rootstock is a very big issue in Burundi. Many farmers have trees that are over 50 years old, but with small plots to farm, it is difficult to justify taking trees entirely out of production for the 3 to 4 years it will take new plantings to begin to yield. In order to encourage farmers to renovate their plantings, Greenco purchases seeds from the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU), establishes nurseries and sells the seedlings to farmers at or below cost.

Despite the ubiquity of coffee growing in Burundi, each smallholder produces a relatively small harvest. The average smallholder has approximately 250 trees, normally in their backyards. Each tree yields an average of 1.5 kilos of cherry so the average producer sells about 200-300 kilos of cherry annually. 

During the harvest season, all coffee is selectively handpicked. Most families only have 200 to 250 trees, and harvesting is done almost entirely by the family. After sorting, cherry is pulped within 6 hours of delivery. During pulping, cherry is separated in to high- and low-grade by density on a Mackinon 3-disc pulper outfitted with an additional separation disk. Once pulped, coffee is placed in Epoxy-coated, concrete fermentation tanks. Intenso yeast purchased from the French company Lalcafe is added to the tanks. The coffee is left to ferment in this environment for approximately 96 hours.

LALCAFÉ INTENSO™ yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) was specially developed for coffee production over a four-year period of research and trials. Trials in various regions and environments showed that Intenso is well suited to better control the fermentation process’ efficiency and to upgrade the cup quality. The yeast is able to control the fermentation process against the risk of spoilage micro-organisms that can generate undesirable defects. Furthermore, its specific metabolism and high capacity even at cold temperatures (minimum 15°C inside the coffee tank) allow for the expression of fresh and fruity characteristics of the coffee beans while respecting the unique flavors of each lot. The longer fermentation time for yeast-processed coffees (washed processed typically ferments for about 12 hours) also allows for more developed flavors. The extra time enables the beans to absorb metabolites, which can enhance flavors. Complexity, acidity, brightness, floral notes and more are all boosted by the lengthened fermentation time. After fermentation is completed, coffee is run through washing and grading canals. In total, the channel separates beans into seven grades according to density. After washing, parchment is poured onto wooden trays or nylon bags and carried to the drying tables, each in its separate quality group. Each tray and nylon bag of parchment keeps its traceability tag with all info.

Parchment is laid on raised beds to dry. While drying, parchment is repeatedly sorted and sifted to ensure even drying. Parchment is left to dry from sunrise to sunset and is covered with a sheet during the evening or when it rains. If the weather conditions are good, the parchment takes on average 10 to 14 days to dry. The moisture level is carefully monitored and any parchment with visual defects is removed. Once dry, the parchment coffee is then bagged and taken to the warehouse. Greenco’s team of expert cuppers assess every lot (which are separated by station, day and quality) at the lab. The traceability of the station, day and quality is maintained throughout the entire process. Eddy Nkanagu, Managing Director at Greenco, a close Sucafina partner in Burundi and Tim Heinze, Coffee Education Manager, discuss the yeast-inoculated fermentation method in this video:

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