Posted on 19th May 2012 @ 8:55 PM
Read the story behind the coffee and how we're involved with the community in Kayanza, Burundi.
We're pleased to release the fresh crop of Bwayi Lot no.1. It's bursting with grapefruit and vanilla, delicate, complex floral aromas and a mouthfeel similar to black tea. It's definitely one of our current favourites.
We also thought it would be a good time to share a little more in depth the story behind this region, and how we are involved in a very small way to help improve the quality of life and the quality of coffee in this community.
In July 2011 Poul Mark, founder of Transcend Coffee, travelled the 8,387 miles to join Food for the Hungry, a Christian non- profit organization dedicated to ending poverty. Their goal is to create a healthy, thriving and sustainable community in war torn Burundi.
A small African country just under 28,000 square kilometers, Burundi has a population of about eight million, over half of which live on less than a dollar a day. It is one of the ten poorest nations and the fourth least developed in terms of social welfare, plagued by nearly 14 years of civil war.
Today, Burundi is rebuilding, focusing efforts on agricultural development and coffee farming, recognizing that economic growth depends on coffee and tea exports. The revitalization of the coffee sector certainly comes with challenges such as poor soil quality, aging coffee trees, and insufficient pruning practices. These factors can impede quality, renewal and longevity of coffee growers’ co-operatives.
Having experienced the specialty coffee produced in Burundi and consumer response to Bwayi lot number 6 roasted by Transcend Coffee in 2011, Poul knew the potential existed and offered support to the coffee growers’ co-operatives.
“I am a firm believer in Trade not Aid,” says Poul Mark, “I always have been. I have witnessed first hand the destructive effects of unmitigated aid, where those who receive it become further entrenched in patterns of dependency.” To that end, Poul became a change agent, offering education and guidance to revitalize and build a viable future for coffee producers, forming a mutually beneficial long-term relationship in Burundi.
The first step in a long process of working towards better quality was enabling producers to taste the coffee that they grow – a new experience for half of the producers. Producers were shown cupping and scoring used to determine the quality of the coffee before it goes to market.
The next step was to identify the process, strategy and approach to create a more viable business – a proposal that included producers being required to cut down 20 percent of their existing farm in exchange for fertilizer for their remaining trees. This will initiate a much needed renewal program and address the real concern of reduced producer yields due to aging trees ranging from 40-70 years. In most countries, producers are introducing new tissue every twenty years. A tree nursery project was started to get newer, healthier trees growing and will be continued until the producers have replenished all of the trees on their farms.
The proposal also included the importance of monitoring the harvest of cherry to ensure only the ripe cherry is picked and delivered to the washing stations for processing. The delivery must be within four hours of being picked, otherwise it will begin to ferment prematurely, impeding its quality. Achieving this is difficult as the only way to get the cherry to the washing station is by foot and the roads are typically uneven and steep.
While the challenges and conditions in Burundi add to the plight of producers, there is hope for revitalization. Poul’s commitment, in partnership with Food for the Hungry Canada, endeavors to achieve the goal of producing better quality coffee for buyers and self-sufficiency for the growers one step at a time.