The Kibingo washing station, from which we bought our coffee this year, is located in the village of Kayanza in northern Burundi. This is not the first time we have had coffee from this washing station and we are thrilled to be able to return to it again after a few years. The station itself is located at an altitude of 1,893 metres. The elevation of the farms in the neighbouring hills that supply the washing station range from 1,700 to 1,900 metres above sea level.
Kibingo processes coffee from 3 515 registered coffee growers spread over 18 hills in the area. All the growers registered at the Greenco washing station are organised in groups of 30, headed by a farm manager. This leader acts as a spokesperson to facilitate communication and organization with the washing station.
Kibingo is equipped with 10 fermentation tanks, 2 soaking tanks and a drying field with 165 drying tables and 4 pre-drying tables. It can process up to 750,000 kg of cherries per day. At the station, farmers can obtain organic fertiliser from composted coffee pulp. To support farm renewal, growers can obtain cheap and subsidised coffee seedlings at the washing station. Each station has its own nursery for this purpose and also participates in a number of outreach and support projects for farmers, including a livestock project and a number of Farmer Hub projects aimed at strengthening cooperatives and improving yields.
During the harvest season, all coffee is hand-picked. Most families have only from 200 to 250 trees and harvesting is done almost exclusively by family members.
Once sorted, the cherries are peeled within 6 hours of delivery. During the peeling process, the cherries are separated into high quality and lower quality cherries by density on a Mackinon three-disc peeler equipped with an additional separation disc. The coffee is then placed in epoxy-coated concrete fermentation tanks, to which yeast is added to improve the resulting coffee flavour. The tanks are left to ferment in this environment for approximately 36 hours. The longer fermentation time for yeast-treated coffees (washed processed coffee is usually fermented for around 12 hours) also allows the flavour to develop. The longer time allows the beans to absorb metabolites that can enhance the flavour. Complexity, acidity, brightness, floral notes and other characteristics are enhanced by the extended fermentation time.
Once fermentation is complete, the coffee passes through washing and sorting channels. In total, the channels divide the beans into seven density classes. After washing, the parchment is loaded onto wooden trays or into nylon bags and taken to the drying tables, each in its own quality group. Each tray and nylon bag of parchment retains its tracking tag with all the information.
The parchment is dried on raised beds for 2-3 weeks. During drying, the parchment is repeatedly sorted and sifted to ensure even drying. The parchment is left to dry from sunrise to sunset and covered with a tarpaulin in the evening or when it rains. After drying, the parchment coffee is packed in sacks and taken to the warehouse. Greenco’s team of experts in the laboratory assesses each batch (which is separated by station, day and quality). Traceability of station, day and quality is maintained throughout the process.
The coffees from Burundi are unusual in taste and we are always excited to see how the harvest went this year. For us, the Kibingo Oro with its flavours of cranberry jam, red orange and black tea aftertaste is a great proof that this year’s harvest was a great success.