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  1. Discussion: Burundi & Global Coffee Market Issues

    Discussion: Burundi & Global Coffee Market Issues

    Sign up for this informative talk about issues surrounding global coffee pricing and small holder farmers.

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  2. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    A few photos and a cursory introduction to the issues facing Burundi coffee this season

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  3. A Second Look at 4 Ethiopian Coffees

    A Second Look at 4 Ethiopian Coffees

    We took a second look (and taste!) at 4 Ethiopian coffees from our 20% off sale.

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  4. Video: Guatemala 2019 Coffee Clips

    Video: Guatemala 2019 Coffee Clips

    A few fairly low tech clips and some thoughts on coffee processing and coffee buying in Guatemala.

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  5. Sign Up For Our  Colombian Coffee Sourcing Discussion & Slideshow on March 6th

    Sign Up For Our Colombian Coffee Sourcing Discussion & Slideshow on March 6th

    Dan and Tom will discuss the leg work that goes into buying coffee from this ever important coffee origin.

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  6. Colombia: New Projects, Familiar Faces

    Colombia: New Projects, Familiar Faces

    Hear more about the new coffee buying operation in San Antonio, Inzá

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  7. Ethiopia Beshasha School Project in Agaro

    Ethiopia Beshasha School Project in Agaro

    A University prep school in rural Agaro Ethiopia, funded by the premiums paid for coffee to 3 coops: Duromina, Biftu Gudina and Hunda Oli

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  8. Podcast Episode #24: Kafa in the Morning, Ethiopia

    Podcast Episode #24: Kafa in the Morning, Ethiopia

    Tom's thoughts and various experiences from his recent travels in Kafa, Ethiopia, near the town of Bonga.

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  9. Sweet Maria's Supports Doctors Without Borders

    Sweet Maria's Supports Doctors Without Borders

    Sweet Maria's is supporting Doctors Without Borders throughout September

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  10. Podcast Episode #22 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 2

    Podcast Episode #22 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 2

    Part 2 of 2 - Continuing the talk about the coffee supply chain and other topics

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  11. Podcast Episode #21 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 1

    Podcast Episode #21 - Burundi Conversation with Alistair Sequeira - Part 1

    Part 1 of 2 - Talking about the coffee supply chain among other topics

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  12. Podcast Episodes 19 & 20: Kenya Coffee: Growing, Trading and Marketing

    Podcast Episodes 19 & 20: Kenya Coffee: Growing, Trading and Marketing

    A while back we had Mary Maina Manyeki visit us in Oakland, and had a great conversation about her experiences as a Kenya coffee farmer.

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Burundi in Photos, May 2019

Burundi in Photos, May 2019

Burundi is in trouble this year. That’s not new, as there always seems to be economic or political crisis here. But 2019-20 will be very difficult in the country and coffee has a lot to do with it.

The crop is very small. In some stations it is 30 - 40% less coffee. But I visited a couple stations that were 70 - 80% less coffee coming in than last year. This means less money to farmers, in a land where trees already have the lowest yield of  Kgs cherry per tree, often under 2 Lbs. This means less money for the wage laborers who come to stations for jobs hand sorting coffee. This means less foreign currency coming into the country, less to apply to health programs and education. Coffee is the largest cash crop here, and the lack of volume will hurt badly.

This happens at a time when American funding and investment  for some programs is being reduced under the current US administration. The ones who hurt the most are farmers. They do grow subsistence crops and other agriculture they can trade locally. Thankfully those crops seem okay this year, and there is food. But cash is needed to maintain homes and roofs, buy livestock as a source of milk, meat and manure, pay school fees for their children.

It’s difficult to travel in a beautiful place, connecting with people over the coffee harvest, and know that so much more needs to be done here. Yes, pay better for coffee. And yes we do. But it takes government and domestic and international partners to make concerted change. This presentation is pretty shallow in some regards but we will be presenting thoughts on Burundi in the context of the global market of coffee in a discussion next week, and will make it available on our youtube too.

One thing I don't discuss here, or anywhere, to the extent it should be stated: Burundi coffee can be wonderful. Wet-processed coffees are world class, balanced, bright, clean, sweet, complex. These are the coffees I take home on the weekend. They are a perfect coffee to focus on when the Centrals, like Guatemala, are getting long in the tooth, since the season runs counter to Central America. They should be celebrated and valued on cup quality beyond where they are currently, which only makes the disparity between price, production, and value more extreme...  -Tom

  1. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Photos of Burundi, Bujumbura

    May is a good time to visit Burundi, to see coffee still in production and to do some cupping of the lots from early harvest, to get a sense of potential quality.

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  2. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Murambi Colline, near the station

    We walk from 1800 meters to another small farm on Murambi hill, near the town. The talk we have with the farmers, Isadore and Susanna is really informative. Beth asks them what they would do if they were getting better prices for coffee cherry. They have no shortage of cash needs, like roof repair for their house.

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  3. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Home Roasting in Bujumbura

    We stopped for lunch at the invitation of Timothy Born, a director for USAID in the country and a home roaster! And when not in Burundi, a Sweet Maria's customer. The coffee was roasting in a round pan with a wood spoon for agitation and was really good! It didnt hurt that it was a 90+ lot from last years Cup of Excellence.

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  4. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Double Layer Drying

    They do skin drying in shade, and later take it out to the sun, Bith shade drying and sun drying are on double tier beds at this station, partly due to the steep terrain and lack of space.

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  5. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Sorting the lower grade

    All coffee needs to be sold, and even a good station like this produces off grade coffee from the floater beans and under-ripe cherry. It all gets sorted by hand.

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  6. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Migoti washing station, Mutambu

    Coffee cherry after floating and hand sorting. The drying process at this station takes a very long time and in early cupping this seems to be an issue in the cup, but I think it will resolve itself with more rest.

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  7. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Rugembe Colline, Phillipe

    We stopped to see some trees of Phillipe and Miriam his wife. He has about 500 trees, making him a sizable farmer. But the amount of cherry on the trees this year is shockingly low, despite a huge effort he makes to fertilize and care for his plants.

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  8. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Trip to Mutambu

    We used to buy a coffee from this sector, called Mutambu, and I was there to visit an inspiring station called Migoti. This is Mutambu town, where I can recall an evening beer and some kinda crazy dancing going on last time I was here a couple years ago.

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  9. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Dress Maker

    In Bujumbura, Dan and I stopped at a small dressmaking shop and asked to see the work space. They can make any dress pictured on the wall, same day, in a few hours. I told them next time... Mom? Want a dress?

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  10. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Fix it in Buj

    There is no doubt you can get anything fixed or rebuilt in the capital of Bujumbura. Later, Dan and I went to the local market, where nothing is wasted, every bolt, every compressor, every scrap of metal is repurposed.

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  11. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Salon de Beaute

    The language in Burundi is Kirundi, sharing a structure with Kenya-Rwanda across the border. I speak only a few words :-(

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  12. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Headed South

    On the way to the area around Bujumbura, some non-coffee photos, like these amusing little fellas.

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  13. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Beautiful Burundi

    Like Rwanda, the terrain of Burundi is lush green hills and valleys, a very lovely place to visit.

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  14. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Unsold Coffee from 2018

    With the big harvest of the previous year, and the low global market price, leftover stocks have been sitting in origins like Burundi. This is again, exacerbated by the low global price. This coffee will be sold at a negative differential, less than the global price, which will hurt the coop warehouse where I took this photo.

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  15. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Clean Shop New Force

    Why not? Coming back from Muyinga to Ngozi to cup the early samples, another nice business sign.

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  16. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Giant Earthworms of Burundi!

    I gasped at the size of this sucker, well over 12 inches, more like 24" when it was extended. A very small type is used for composting in coffee areas, California Redworm. With rains I think this deep-dweller was driven to the surface.

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  17. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Le Chevre

    Yes goats mean brochette to many in Burundi. But they also produce much needed organic fertilizer with their waste. This year Greenco gave out goats and pigs as bonus to farmers, with a signed agreement they would not be eaten: they are only a source for composting material, but can also be bred and sold by farmers for another income.

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  18. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Nyamaso Station

    We travel to Muyinga sector, another area about an hour from Ngozi. They say the harvest is much better in this zone, but still down from last year. The impact spreads to all, not just station owners and farmers, but the "casual laborers" who are paid a wage to sort cherries. Low crop means less work,

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  19. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Kibingo Cherry Sorting

    We arrive at Kibingo, another station we bought last year, at night. Cherry is coming in and being sorted buy farmers, but there is very little. Kibingo is down nearly 75% in production!

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  20. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Yandaro Site

    Celestin Ntahiraja is manager of Yandaro coffee washing station in Kayanza. The big news in Burundi this year is a very small crop, following last year's sizable harvest. In the background you can see empty drying beds.

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  21. Burundi in Photos, May 2019

    Salon / Saloon

    I have this thing for hand-painted business signs and Burundi is one of the best! No signs are exactly the same, and they show skill and personality of the artist and proprietor.

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