This lot comes from the Mabago Washing Station, belonging to SACOBU, a local cherry miller organization in Burundi, run by three brothers. The name for the organization comes from a merging of the words ‘Specialty Arabica Coffee Burundi.’ They have eleven washing stations throughout the country, mostly in the East.
Producers will harvest their cherries when ripe and bring them to the Mabago Washing Station. The cherries are submerged in tanks of water to remove the lower quality floaters. Once sorted, the cherries are depulped, to remove the external fruit attached to the bean. Afterwards, the coffee is washed to remove any remaining mucilage and debris. Next, the coffee is then evenly dispersed on raised beds and dried in the open sun until the ideal moisture content is reached.
Despite its small size, Burundi is home to roughly 600,000 – 800,000 coffee-producing families in five different regions. Coffee started as a cash crop here during the time spent as a Belgian colony in the 1930s. Once the country gained independence in 1962, the World Bank assisted the government in allocating resources to plant more coffee and construct washing stations. Coffee production grew until the breakout of the civil war in 1993, that lasted until 2003. This led to the abandonment of coffee farms, and destruction of numerous coffee trees. It also grew increasingly more difficult to transport coffee out of the landlocked country. When the civil war finally ended in 2005 and a new president was elected – more attention was focused on coffee production. Today, Burundi has become a small but significant contributor to the East African coffee market.