Burundi is a small landlocked country in Southeastern Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country is one of the poorest in the world, plagued with tribal conflict like it’s neighbors but with less international awareness.
Even though coffee makes up an incredible 93% of its exports, instability in the region has made exporting logistics difficult in the past. Despite these issues, Burundi produces some of Africa’s most unique coffees, combining sweet, citrusy flavors with ripe red fruit and herbal notes.
In typical fashion of many of our favorite washing stations in Burundi, Kirema is in Kayanza. It is a small “cooperative” as around 1350 small farmers deliver cherries here. This is part of a Café Imports project where a quality premium is paid above the normal “market rate” and this premium is paid directly back to the farmers.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Burundi Kirema, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free to pull u pa chair.
region: Kayanza, Burundi
producer: smallholder farmers
elevation: 1650 meters above sea level
cultivars: Bourbon, Jackson, Mibirzi
process: fully washed, raised bed dried
The aroma of the Burundi Kirema is sweet, fragrant, and crisp, with notes of flowers and herbs, cherry, chocolate ganache, and citrus.
Taking my first few sips of the cup immediately post-brew, my palate is graced by a full-bodied, voluptuous, velvety coffee. Initial flavors of cocoa and caramel ooze onto the palate, introducing raisin, grape, and cranberry before a rush of bright, tart, and acidic fruit flavors take over the latter portion of the cup.
As it cools off, tart cherry, orange juice, green grape, and zesty lemon rind lead the charge that ends with a flourish of strawberry, cream, fragrant juniper, lilac, and semisweet almond. And all of this is washed away by a bright, sparkling, and effervescent white wine acidity that ends with a slightly mouth-puckering finish.
Full body; velvety mouthfeel; winy acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Burundis are special coffees; very special. When it comes to African coffees, no two regions are identical; even so, coffees from Burundi are magic. And the Burundi Kirema, from Halfwit Coffee Roasters, is magic coffee unto itself.
Beautiful, lush, juicy, and herbaceous, the Kirema does nothing short of dazzling the taste buds. It is a tremendous coffee; one that I can’t recommend highly enough.
Did you like this? Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome here at the Table! Pull up a chair and speak your mind by entering a comment below. Also remember to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.