After three misty years we are happy to orientate back on these two magnificent coffee countries, Rwanda and Burundi.
First of all, THE WHY:
Why we stopped roasting coffee from Rwanda and Burundi?
We have been very big fans of both origins since the start-up of our roastery, during the summer of 2010. We knew some of the beans were defective and gave the Barista's some annoyances. The well know potato-disease was the main problem, so maybe first a word on this phenomenon:
The potato defect has been found as a natural occurrence in certain East and Central African Great Lakes coffees, mostly in Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. It has been less frequently encountered in Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya, as well.
Despite years of research, the jury is still out on what exactly makes the coffee plants in Africa’s Great Lakes produce this particular compound. But most experts are pretty confident it’s linked to a local species of stink bug called Antestia.
No matter the specific cause, the problem is localized regionally and originates at the farm level, well before the coffee is processed, exported, roasted, or consumed.
It is a taste defect. It won’t make you sick, but it definitely presents strong off-flavor tastes and smells. Yet more than a mere nuisance, it can also cause severe economic problems for coffee producers.
The potato defect is like an occasional bruised avocado you thought was ripe, or a corked wine bottle. In my opinion, given the quality of coffees from these areas, it’s a risk that’s totally worth the reward.
Of course it's nicer to not have one or two times a day a strong raw potato smell in the bar and eventually in the cup, but over the years more and more of our professional clients started to protest and stopped buying coffees with potato-risk.
Why are we offering it again?
With better Peruvian and Colombian coffees available we gambled on these origins to make up for the lost jewels out of both bespoken African origins, but after a disappointing 2022 Peru harvest, and with less potato defects recently, we decided to give it another go this year.
On top of that we think the better lots out of Rwanda and Burundi are some of a kind and with the current washed Ethiopian coffees not performing so well (on filter roast) we needed a new trick up the sleeve.
Out of Rwanda we selected two washed lots, the FUGI out of the Southern Province and a peaberry lot from the North by this very gifted producer TOM BAGAZA. We hope to start roasting on January 16th our first batches.
And last but not least we have the price point. Because of the damaged image, prices for coffees out of both countries are easily 10% lower than from comparable competitive origins. Our Roast ED is a price conscious coffee that has the ambition of being the best value for money espresso blend. 1/3rd of the blend consists of a budget, but clean, washed Ethiopian coffee, but with price rising ridiculously we couldn't keep up our image no longer and decided to replace our Ethiopia Limu by the Burundi Kayanza TURACO, a very comparable coffee, but 2 euro's a kilo cheaper.
So here we are, ready for a new challenge, and let's hope potato smell this winter will only be limited to us making mashed potato's in the kitchen.