East Africa is well-known for producing high-quality coffee, and Burundi is no exception. You’ll find the small, mountainous country situated between Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though the java yield is small compared to other African countries, Burundi coffee farmers pay exceptional attention to detail.
The African country has the world’s second-lowest GDP per capita and is considered one of the ten poorest nations. But, since coffee production significantly contributes to the national economy, farmers are motivated to develop coffee cultivation further.
But how does Burundian coffee taste? Why do coffee trees thrive in this country? And what are the best Burundian beans you can buy? We’ll answer all those questions and more as we dig deeper into the not-so-well-known world of Burundi coffee.
At a Glance: Best Burundi Coffee
Coffee Cultivation and a 100% Export Rate
Coffee cultivation in Burundi began in the 1930s when the Belgians brought the first arabica coffee plants to the region. Though some robusta varieties grow in the small country today, most of the plants there remain arabica.
Though the Burundian coffee harvest has nothing on Kenya or Ethiopia, the efforts of this country’s coffee producers put Burundi on the map as the 29th-largest coffee-growing country in the world. Interestingly enough, they export 100 percent of the coffee. In 2020, that totaled 43.9 million dollars worth of beans, making it the 44th-largest coffee exporter that year.
The Burundian coffee industry has had its fair share of struggles due to political instability, but thankfully, things are beginning to smooth out. Nowadays, more than 800,000 families are involved in the farming of coffee there. These smallholders average around 250 trees each and, more often than not, produce other crops and livestock besides coffee beans.
You’ll most commonly find bourbon variety beans in the 25 million coffee plants on over 60,000 hectares of land, which are known for their great sweetness and body. The coffee here is wet-processed and, like many African beans, double-washed or double-fermented, resulting in a cleaner, brighter flavor profile.
What Else is Burundi Known For?
Coffee makes up a whopping 69 percent of Burundi’s total exports, according to data gathered in May 2022. However, tea, cotton, and skins are other popular items on the country’s export list.
Quick Summary: Best Burundi Coffee
Our Top PickRED BAY COFFEE MOTHERLAND
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|SPARROWS COFFEE BURUNDI KAYANZA||Check Price →|
|SPARROWS COFFEE JOVEN BURUNDI TURIHAMWE||Check Price →|
|GRAND PARADÉ COFFEE BURUNDI KAYANZA MEDIUM ROAST WHOLE BEANS||Check on Amazon →|
|BARBAROSSA COFFEE BURUNDI KAYANZA WHOLE BEANS||Check on Amazon →|
|JOE COFFEE BURUNDI KIBINGO||Check Price →|
|AIRIS COFFEE ROASTERS BURUNDI KINYOVU WHOLE BEAN COFFEE||Check on Amazon →|
|NECESSARY COFFEE BLEND||Check Price →|
|RED BAY COFFEE CARVER’S DREAM||Check Price →|
How Does Burundi Coffee Taste?
A cup of coffee made from Burundian beans is comparable to a brew from Rwanda, a country that borders Burundi. Expect to enjoy the clean and delicate flavor, rich body, and bright acidity for which African coffee is known. There may even be some wild fruitiness, a sweet berry taste, and floral tones, plus citrus, pineapple, or blueberry notes.
High-altitude Burundi coffee has more pronounced acidity and citric notes, often reaching a Specialty Coffee Association score of 86 or higher. On the other hand, lower altitude coffees have a little less body and notes of chocolate and hazelnut.
Climate That Makes Coffee Thrive
Burundi has favorable conditions for growing coffee with varied altitudes across the country. Lake Tanganyika in the west is the lowest point at 772 meters above sea level, while the summit of Mount Heha is the highest point at 2,670 meters.
These factors allow many Burundian coffee beans to be Strictly High Grown (SHG) and Strictly Hard Bean (SHB), as most are grown between 1,200 to 2,000 meters above sea level.
That perfect coffee growing environment is boosted by 12,000 millimeters (472 inches) of rainfall annually and the nutrient-rich volcanic soil that adds flavor to the joe.
Growing Regions in Burundi
Here’s a quick rundown of Burundi’s main coffee farming regions, plus key information about each of them.
Buyenzi is found in the northern portion of Burundi and borders Rwanda. You’ll find plenty of quality coffee here, particularly in its two sub-regions, Kayanza and Ngozi.
Kayanza is probably the most famous of Burundi’s java-growing regions and has mild weather with average temperatures of around 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Most farms here are between 1,700 and 2,000 meters above sea level. These conditions produce beans with high acidity and delightfully profound citrus notes, resulting in coffee that often gets high SCA ratings.
Despite having similar growing conditions and elevations, Ngozi, located in northeast Burundi, has a lower yield than Kayanza. Less doesn’t mean subpar, though. Ngozi-grown coffee is excellent, with SCA cupping scores ranking above 85.
The Muyinga coffee region borders Tanzania in northeastern Burundi. The combination of volcanic soil, mild climate, and an average elevation of around 1,800 meters create a perfect environment for growing quality coffee.
Other Burundian Coffee Growing Regions
Since Burundi has plenty of growing regions, we’re not going to get into the nitty-gritty of all of them. But if you want to do some research in your spare time, here’s a list of other regions you’ll find in the country:
Roasty Rankings: Our Top Picks for the Best Burundi Coffee
Though Burundi isn’t necessarily one of the African coffee giants, it’s still a country that grows and exports a substantial amount of delicious coffee. Take a look at some of Burundi’s best coffee beans (both single-origins and blends to give you a bit more variety — you’re welcome). Who knows? You might find something you like!
Red Bay Coffee MotherLand
Red Bay Coffee Motherland
Round, brown sugary sweetness meets a gentle green apple acidity and subtle hints of florals.
If you’re ready to pour something a little different from your average joe, reach for a bag of Red Bay Coffee’s MotherLand beans. The resulting brew is sweet and bright — just what you need to push through the day.
This Burundi-grown brew has pleasant floral notes with hints of orange blossom, turbinado sugar, and damson plum. It’s good enough to stand on its own, but a splash of milk or creamer wouldn’t hurt the java’s sugary sweetness either.
Sparrows Coffee Burundi Kayanza
Sparrows Coffee Burundi Kayanza
We’ve never come across such a combination of cinnamon candy sweetness and bright orangey acidity – and the peachy notes take the whole cup to the next level.
Sparrows Coffee’s Burundi Kayanza beans celebrate the best of this coffee origin: mouthwatering sweetness and a smooth, silky mouthfeel. This medium roast coffee, with flavors of black tea and dried apricot, is part of Sparrows’ Harmony Series, which means sipping it “feels like watching lightning bugs with your bae on a hammock while the sun sets.” In other words, this Burundi brew gives all the cozy vibes.
This joe is produced by the two-time Cup of Excellence winning Kiryama washing station in Kayanza. JNP Coffee, a Sparrows import partner and an organization known for its work with women-owned Burundi microlots, invested in this washing station. That means the growers of these beans are supported through shared knowledge, encouraged innovation, and the promotion of good stewardship of the environment.
Sparrows Coffee Joven Burundi Turihamwe
Sparrows Coffee Joven Burundi Turihamwe
This coffee comes from seven young members of the Burundi chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, and features a gorgeous cranberry acidity and deep brown sugar sweetness.
Sparrows Coffee’s Joven Burundi Turihamwe beans are produced by seven young female entrepreneurs from Ngozi, members of the Burundi chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance. It was also selected by the world’s youngest Q grader, Frankie Volkema.
Given that joven translates to “young,” both facts make perfect sense. The brew is named after the women’s investment group, Turihamwe, meaning “together” in Kirundi.
Now, all that’s fine and good, but how does this light-medium roast taste? Pleasantly sweet, thanks to black tea, apricot, and vanilla notes.
Grand Paradé Coffee Burundi Kayanza Medium Roast Whole Beans
Who runs the world? Girls! Well, maybe they don’t run the whole world, but they run Burundi’s Gatuzuka Women Group, and those 500-plus smallholder farmers in Kayanza produce Grand Paradé’s beans. Scoop a few spoonsful of this Fair Trade medium roast into your automatic drip machine, and prepare to enjoy cup after cup of sweet, cozy goodness.
Notes of candied orange, tamarind, and caramel make sipping this single-origin coffee feel like getting a warm hug. That creamy, chocolatey mouthfeel doesn’t hurt, either.
Barbarossa Coffee Burundi Kayanza Whole Beans
We think the best way to enjoy single-origin Burundi beans is to use a French press or pour-over, as these brewing methods are notorious for bringing out all of the coffee’s unique, rich flavor notes. We recommend using one of those brewers with Barbarossa Coffee’s Burundi Kayanza beans; you don’t want to miss out on their strawberry, black cherry, milk chocolate, and tangerine tasting notes.
These award-winning medium-dark roasted beans went through the natural processing method at the Gakenke Central Washing Station, resulting in a rich body and acidity. And, in true Burundi coffee fashion, these beans fall into the Bourbon varietal category.
Joe Coffee Burundi Kibingo
Joe Coffee Burundi Kibingo
A super fun, fruity Burundi – this cup offers tons of sweet-tart green apple acidity as well as elegant floral notes and tropical fruity sweetness.
Joe Coffee’s Burundi Kibingo coffee made our must-buy list for one simple reason: it’s fun! Notes of black tea, lavender, and kiwi make the light-medium roast a delight to drink, and admit it — the name is pretty fun to say, too. These wet-processed, single-origin beans make a top-notch brew with a sturdy body and deep, complex flavor. It’s no wonder this Burundian java is a Joe Coffee customer and employee favorite.
It’s also worth mentioning that Kibingo is one of only two co-ops in Burundi to achieve Rainforest Alliance Certification. That means this coffee was produced using methods that support the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental.
Airis Coffee Roasters Burundi Kinyovu Whole Bean Coffee
What makes this product stand out from the rest of the beans in our buying guide is Airis Coffee Roasters’ innovative air roasting technique, which only one percent of the roasters worldwide still use. This advanced process produces the brightest, cleanest flavor notes possible and a taste (with hints of pineapple, hibiscus, green tea, and toffee, by the way) that’s beyond compare.
This coffee is also certified by the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), the leading supporter of female empowerment in the global coffee industry. That means buying this coffee supports some of Burundi’s talented, hardworking female farmers.
Necessary Coffee Blend
Necessary Coffee Blend
Creamy and chocolaty in a way reminiscent of a fudgsicle – this perfectly crafted blend could easily become your go-to daily brew.
Is trying Necessary Coffee’s Burundi-Colombia blend necessary? We’ll let you decide that, but we vote yes because of the chocolate and brown sugar tasting notes. This blend is smooth and consistent enough to brew every day, so if you’re looking to replace your current batch of ol’ reliable beans, this product might be a solid starting point.
Besides providing a delicious daily drink, Necessary Coffee aims to bridge the gap between the prices paid for unique-tasting specialty coffee and the money given to producers. That’s why Necessary invests in mutually beneficial relationships with the communities from which they source beans. Customers get great joe, and farmers can support themselves — everyone wins!
Red Bay Coffee Carver’s Dream
Red Bay Coffee Carver's Dream
This is a pleasantly smooth espresso, with a structured chocolaty body and a sweetness that hints of both caramel and cherries.
Espresso enthusiasts, come front and center; this one’s for you. Red Bay Coffee brought beans from Burundi and Guatemala together to create a batch of beans perfect for use in your trusty espresso machine.
Flavors of cherry compote, almond paste, and chocolate swirl around your cup, so whether you’ll be enjoying a shot on its own or adding it to a bit of steamed milk to enjoy a cortado, this joe is a worthy contender.
Red Bay roasts these medium-dark beans in Oakland, California. Before making their way to the Golden State, farmers grew and processed the beans at the La Ceiba and Women of Kinyovu cooperatives in Guatemala and Burundi, respectively.
Add Burundi To Your Coffee Radar
No, the amount of green coffee beans Burundi grows doesn’t come close to what Ethiopia or Kenya produce. Still, this country’s beans are comparable in terms of quality. After all, the country boasts an ideal coffee-growing climate and nutritious volcanic soil, which contribute to the bright, fruity notes that define these beans.
Burundi’s a coffee region worth exploring, and any of the products in our buying guide make a great place to start.