Burundi/Rwanda Insta-Tour

Burundi/Rwanda Insta-Tour

June 21, 2016

Tom just got back from a long trip to Rwanda and Burundi. Here's a few Instagrams he posted during his travels.

This is a very welcome sight after some long and late flights.

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I'm always learning... On the left are 3 coffee cherries that have been drilled into by CBB, the coffee berry borer aka broca. On the right are 4 cherries affected by Antestia, and as you might be able to see they do not have holes, but rather surface scars. That's because the Antestia insect doesn't enter the fruit, drill into the bean, or lay eggs in the coffee as CBB does. It just sucks the sap and goes on its way. Both are coffee pests and both harm coffee quality and lower the volumes. And possibly they both allow the fungal byproduct that produces potato taste a berth in the coffee bean her in Rwanda and regionally. (Consider that Kenya has Antestia and yet no potato defect and it's clear the relationship is not causal with the pest).

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At Mbemba coffee washing station in Burundi, a little allegorical drawing posted on the office door. Coops we support in Burundi are really suffering despite strong leadership and the work of the farmer members. Much of the problem is competition from nearby private washing stations who send their collectors to the hills near the station. They pay a decent price for coffee cherry, and thy pay cash. But the farmers who sell to collectors don't get any of the coop benefits or second payments. They also don't get to build something in their community, something they own. The problem is national, with the poor decisions in monetary policy that make the black market in cash a much better option. But also multi nationals who have deep pockets to finance cherry buying during the harvest. I am talking about ways we can use our long term buying relationships with these coops to give them access to more prefinancing going forward. I know, posts like this aren't so attractive as posting about terroir or cultivars but all that coffee quality stuff we care about doesn't matter much if farmers can't get paid promptly and fairly for their coffee!

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Check our our current selection of coffees from Burundi.

Sunday meeting with the farmers at Rubanda, #Burundi. It's a steep, long hike to the washing station and we couldn't make it down last year. With the incline plus a little rain, it's a nearly impossible footpath. But the weather has been dry this season so I finally made it. Gérard spoke to the farmers in Kirundi language while I stood there rather uselessly. Nonetheless, visits like this are really important, especially a station that has never had a buyer arrive at their doorstep until today. They do care where their coffee goes, that the work is important to us, that the quality of the coffee is recognized. For me, it hits home how much the better price they get affects so many families directly. #coffeewashingstation #coffeewetmill #coffeefarmers

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Um, yes please. #toyotalandcruiser70series

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