Blue“Blue” by Joni Mitchell
Songs are like tattoos
You know I’ve been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
I was sad when I moved away from the City of Chicago and into the far-North suburbs. For a lot of reasons. But access to great coffee was chiefest among them. Where I live now is a fairly rural area and great coffee is difficult to come by. I was thrilled to find that in Crystal Lake, though there is a roasting operation called Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters. And, honestly, it ranks with some of the best companies in Chicago.
Conscious Cup has made appearances on this website before. Their Costa Rica Las Lajas that I cupped in 2016 was a pretty unique take on one of my all-time favorite coffees. So I’m really excited to share my thoughts of one their newer offerings, Burundi Buhorwa.
When Burundi opened up the coffee sector to private investment, the government put all of their nearly 200 washing stations on the market. The Sogestals – regional cooperatives who manage these washing stations – purchased several for themselves. One of these is Burundi Buhorwa – one of the country’s highest altitude washing stations, and the first community outside of Uganda to work with Crop to Cup back in 2009.
Like many other sought-after coffee growing regions in Burundi, competition for volume is fierce. In response to the competition, washing stations, Sogestals and other buyers launched collection centers for farmers who do not live close to a station and who may otherwise be enticed to sell to middlemen who are not focused on quality and who do not offer post-season premiums. For Buhorwa Washing Station and its three cherry collection centers, this not only ensures adequate volume to stay in business, but also allows for better separation of lots based on quality and cup score.*
region: Bukeye Town, Muramvya Province, Burundi
farm: Burundi Buhorwa Washing Station
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1800 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Burundi Buhorwa is pleasant, but mild. It’s sugary sweet, with a touch of roast and black tea.
In the cup, the coffee has a lot of presence. It is fairly full-bodied, with a honeyed mouthfeel, and its flavors hit every part of my tongue – even the roof of my mouth. It leads with the sweetness of honey, roasted marshmallows, and graham cracker. That’s right – I’m practically drinking a s’more. The coffee doesn’t feature a chocolate note, though; rather, there’s a creamy vanilla that emerges as the cup starts to cool. As the coffee approaches room temperature, juicy peach and apricot emerge while black tea plays through a slightly dry, astringent finish.
The Burundi Buhorwa is easily the best coffee I’ve had from Conscious Cup yet. This is going to sound pretentious af, but this coffee has less of a flavor profile and more of a flavor experience. And what I mean by that is, it’s one of those rare coffees that really engages the consumer. This isn’t one to idly sip; it’s one that you need to spend time with.