Burundi: Ngogomo - Fully Washed Bourbon
In the cup: A Burundi microlot that reminds a lot of classic Kenyan coffees. Fruit driven acidity with complex acidity balanced with sweetness throughout. Lots of blackcurrant and pomegranate flavours.
Cupping Score: 89
Mouthfeel: Smooth, silken. Buttery finish.
Process: Fully washed.
Producer: Muyinga Washing Station
Altitude: 1500 - 1800 meters above sea level
Coffee arrived in Burundi during the 1940s with the Belgian colonial government. The Belgian government, which oversaw and administered to the twin territory of Ruanda-Urundi between 1922 and 1962, made coffee growing mandatory during their rule. When the Belgian government withdrew, many stopped tending their trees because it was no longer compulsory. However, many also saw the economic advantages of continuing to grow coffee, and the industry became central to Burundi’s national economy.
The History of Ngogomo CWS
The story of coffee production on Ngogomo hill begins with a fisherman. The fisherman had made his livelihood catching fish in a stream near the location where the station is located today. When the fish disappeared, the fisherman, unable to find a reason or solution to the problem of the disappearing fish, switched to coffee farming. Coffee farming proved to be a more stable profession, especially considering the ideal climate and soil composition, which produced high quality cherry. Many of the neighbors of the farmer–turned–fisherman decided to follow suit and began farming their own coffee trees. The successful story of his coffee plants and the good quality of the cherries around the area meant that the people living nearby also started to grow coffee trees.
Ngogomo CWS Today
Ngogomo is one of the main stations in the province of Muyinga, It was constructed in 1992 and today serves more than 1,800 farmers on 18 hills. The station is overseen by sustainability and CWS manage Severin Nizigiyimana. With 10 fermentation tanks, 3 soaking tanks, 258 drying tables, 4 selection tables and 10 floating tanks the station can process up to 1,500 metric tonnes of cherry each season. The processing season runs from April to June. Ngogomo CWS also participates in a number of farmer outreach and support projects include a goat and pig project, Farmer Hub, strengthening cooperatives and distributing fertilizer and coffee trees.
All coffee trees in Burundi are Red Bourbon, which is tightly controlled by the government for reasons of quality. Because of the increasingly small size of coffee plantings, aging rootstock is a very big issue in Burundi. Many farmers have trees that are over 50 years old, but with small plots to farm, it is difficult to justify taking trees entirely out of production for the 3-4 years it will take new plantings to begin to yield. In order to encourage farmers to rennovate their plantings, Bugestal purchases seeds from the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU), establishes nurseries and sells the seedlings to farmers at or below cost. In 2018, their first year growing seedlings, Ngogomo CWS produced 72,377 seedlings.
Despite the ubiquity of coffee growing in Burundi, each smallholder producers a relatively small harvest. The average smallholder has approximately 250 trees, normally in their backyards. Each tree yields an average of 1.5 kilos of cherry so the average producer sells about 200-300 kilos of cherry annually.