Nearly twenty years later, the world is still trying to comprehend the madness behind the atrocities that occurred in Rwanda during their massive civil war. What many don’t realize is that the same tribal conflicts that have affected Rwanda still persist to this day in Burundi.
In this tiny country, deep in the heart of Africa, many thousands of people depend on coffee farming and production to maintain at least some semblance of a normal life. In fact, ninety percent of Burundi’s population relies on coffee as their main (or only) source of income.
Welcome to my table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we are drinking Burundi Kayanza-Gacokwe from ROWSTER: New American Coffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Feel free to pull up a chair.
The people of Burundi have an amazing spirit and a sound resolve – the farmers here have completely dedicated themselves to their craft and their crops. And for good reason – coffee has quite literally saved the lives of many Burundians since their twelve-year civil war ended in 2005. Since then, a lot of investing and improvements have been made at the farm level through the implementation of cooperatives.
One such cooperative is the Gacokwe Washing Station.
The Gacokwe Washing station is a small cooperative, made up of about 1,700 farmers, in the Kayanza region of northern Burundi. Although this is technically a washing station, it functions as a cooperative in that the farmers in this area all bring their cherries here for washing and processing. A premium price, well above the market rate, is paid directly to the farmers of this cooperative.
A really great cup of coffee goes a long way to improve your morning, and that’s all the more relevant when that same coffee is improving the lives of farmers.
origin: Kayanza, Burundi
farm: Gacokwe Washing Station Cooperative
elevation: 1750 meters above sea level
cultivars: Jackson, Mibirzi (Bourbon derivatives)
process: fully washed, patio dried
I can already tell that this is going to be a sweet cup of coffee. Notes of fig, raisin, cocoa, tropical fruit, and violet.
The first couple of times I made this one, it almost tasted sort of vegetal, which is reminiscent of the first couple of Burundis I ever had – I can’t remember where they were from, but they tasted grassy. It was a sweet vegetal, though – it almost tasted like split peas. After a couple days of letting the beans settle, that vegetal taste has now disappeared and is replaced by mellow but sweet dried fruit flavor – fig, pear, raisin, coconut and cranberry.
As the cup cools off, the coffee bursts to life with an explosion of tropical fruit! It has a really big and bright pineapple and mango juiciness that mixes with an apple, red grape, apricot, and cherry winy-ness.
Remaining constant throughout the life of the cup is a flowing bed of cocoa and maple brown sugar.
Medium body; pineapple acidity; syrupy mouthfeel; clean, sparkling finish.
the bottom line:
ROWSTER’s Burundi Kayanza-Gacokwe is such a rich and deep cup of coffee with a lot of concentrated sweetness. Based on the cup’s aroma and flavor immediately post-brew, I wasn’t at all expecting the flavor explosion that occurred when the cup cooled off; when that happened, when the cup burst into bright tropicalia, my taste buds immediately stood at attention.
This is a tremendous cup of coffee. A very tremendous cup of coffee. Rich and deep, clean and complex. This coffee is every bit as unique as the country it comes from. A coffee that has this much intricacy and flavor can only be handled by the hands of an extremely capable roaster – ROWSTER is just that.
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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.