[12] Burundi - Kibingo Kwambira [CROP 23/24 ARCHIVE]

[12] Burundi - Kibingo Kwambira [CROP 23/24 ARCHIVE]

This yeast inoculated natural espresso from the Kibingo station ran from 24/01/2024 to 27/03/2024.

Our next espresso focused coffee sees us return to the Kibingo station with this year’s fresh crop yeast inoculated natural. Our most process-driven single origin to date, we think there’s an under-appreciated quality to the resinous, rich and deeply layered character we taste in a coffee like this. Expect a chocolatey cup with lots of complexity (red wine, red fruit and spices) - without heavy roast influence.

Brew Guide:

Best Brewed with: Espresso, Moka Pot, Immersion

Espresso: 18g in, 38-40g out, 28-32s

Filter: 65-70g/L, Coarser grind, 88-92c water, low agitation.

We’re tasting: High grade 60% dark chocolate, macerated strawberries, pomelo, and a robust red wine character (Malbec/Syrah) lend a red-fruit complexity and dense process-forward character, with a coating body. The finish is resinous - with a strong note of mulling spices, and hints of juniper and dried mango.

In milk: Crème de Cacao, Fudge, Strawberry jam


Country of Origin:
Kibingo CWS, Greenco Coffee
3515 smallholders selling cherry to Kibingo
Red Bourbon
Grown at 1700 -1900 MASL, Processed/Dried at 1,893 MASL

Natural, Yeast Inoculated: Cherries selectively picked and floated; before being transferred to covered (but not sealed) tanks and inoculated with Lalcafe Oro Yeast, with a 36 hour aerobic fermentation. 

Cherries then drained and laid out to dry on raised beds for 3 weeks until reaching a stable moisture content, bagged and stored with a several week rest in husk prior to hulling.

Import Partner:

23/24 - Arrived UK: Dec 23

Purchasing history: Second Harvest buying from Kibingo


The Story

Kibingo is a relatively large-scale washing station, situated in Kayanza, northern Burundi. It serves as a central hub for 3,515 registered coffee growers from 18 surrounding hills, with farm altitudes ranging between 1,700 and 1,900 metres. The farmers are organised into groups of 30, each led by a farm leader who facilitates communication and coordination with the washing station.

The station is well-equipped for bulk coffee processing, with 10 fermentation tanks, 2 soaking tanks, and 165 drying tables, with an additional 4 pre-drying tables. Additionally, it provides essential resources to the farmers, such as organic fertiliser made from composted coffee pulp and low-cost coffee seedlings (with certified seed-stock bought in from the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi) for farm renovation, nurtured in the station's own nursery.

In terms of cultivation, the majority of coffee trees in the region are Red Bourbon, chosen for quality. However, farmers face challenges due to the ageing rootstock and small plot sizes, making it hard to renew plantations without taking a significant loss of income. Despite Burundi's widespread coffee cultivation, individual smallholder farmers produce modest harvests, with an average of 250 trees per farmer and a typical yield of 200-300 kilos of cherries annually. It is the ability to offer differentiated and nuanced profiles, as well as providing added value to bulk production that has brought us back to the Kibingo yeast lots, and we have chosen to market them as “Kwambira” - using the Kirundi word for “Yeast processed”

A yeast inoculated coffee from the Kibingo station in Burundi formed the centrepiece of our green buyer and co-founder Alex’s 2019 United Kingdom Barista championship routine - focused around the concept of elevating “classic” and lower scoring coffees to improve farmer livelihoods. In the years that have passed since then, yeast processing in coffee has taken off, with both commercially available yeasts for bulk processing, and better resourced farmers (typically in Colombia) isolating local strains with positive characteristics. 

All of this can be seen to be operating almost as a reverse of the wine industry’s “natural wine” movement. Spontaneous fermentation in wine allowed new and unusual sensory characteristics to be expressed in the final product, but at the risk that some of the harvest would be sub-par, allowing a generation of vignerons to rebel against the overly technical and controlled nature of the mature wine industry.

Coffee, as a relatively young industry when it comes to the technical skills of fermentation, is starting from a place where a decade or so back, 100% of coffee was fermented using spontaneous fermentation - using wild yeast and bacteria present at the mills to both aid processing as well as improve the sensory attributes of the final cup.  All the while introducing an element of random variability (and risk) in the final product. Some years, a coffee could be outstanding, a cup of excellence winner, and a boon to the farmers; the next crop a blender (or worse).

As the coffee industry matures, each year brings new and improved technical interventions that allow farmers more control over the output of fermentations, of which  specific yeast inoculations are somewhat at the forefront. 

We expect to see this movement continue - producers in Colombia (such as Señores Bermudez, Benitez, Ramirez, etc) continuing to push the boundaries of flavour and technical intervention, whilst central mills in less developed countries will gain improved access and knowledge to products such as the Lalcafe (an offshoot of wine yeast producer Lallemand) yeast used in this Kibingo lot.

We bought coffee from last year’s yeast processed lots to be part of our offer on launch, as one half of Colourful. Whilst roasting that coffee as part of the blend, we were already thinking to explore how it might do as a single origin. 

When we received samples of his year’s crop we found it a little more heavy-handed on the processing, less fresh fruit and more cooked, very much like a spicy, dark fruit red wine - almost like Malbec. We think it’ll make a super espresso - all the heavy, textural elements and richness we find in a classic style of espresso, with the complexity and depth of flavour of modern light roast coffee, a true blending of old ideas with new vision.

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