From our Green Coffee Buyer for Burundi J Mlodzinski:
Ramadhan Salum has been an Intelligentsia Direct Trade partner for the past three years. He owns and operates Kayanza Premium Coffee (KPC), a quality-focused coffee company whose growth has helped to drive the emergence of Burundi’s coffee sector as the source of some of the world’s cleanest and sweetest coffees.
KPC: Quality pioneer
Just 10 years ago, every coffee washing station (CWS) in Burundi was government-owned. In 2009, when KPC opened its first CWS at Buziraguhindwa, it was one of the first in the country to be privately held. From the outset, Ramadhan and KPC have married a strategic commitment to quality with a meticulous approach to operations to deliver exceptionally clean coffee.
We have sourced coffee from KPC regularly for our annual Karyenda Burundi releases, but the investments Ramadhan has made in recent years are paying dividends in the form of increased cup quality. Beginning tomorrow, we are delighted to offer this Buzira Burundi Limited release from the KPC CWS at Buziraguhindwa. Our QC team chose this coffee from dozens of samples carefully selected from all four of KPC’s washing stations. It represents coffee delivered during a single day by over 100 growers from the same village.
Buziraguhindwa: The land of milk and honey
Ramadhan’s operations create incentives for quality not only at Buziraguhindwa, but at all of his CWS. He pays more for cherry that is ripe and clean, of course, but that isn’t all. KPC also pays a little extra to farmers who travel farther to deliver their cherry: a way to compensate them for their additional transportation costs. And farmers who bring KPC their cherry return home with compost created at a nearby KPC washing station, as well as milk and honey that is raised at the CWS. When it first opened the Buziraguhindwa CWS, KPC even distributed coffee seedlings to the local farmers for free to renovate local coffee farms, where most plants were 20-60 years old. KPC has even worked to give growers access to finance and has implemented a financial literacy program designed to help growers boost household savings.
Ramadhan traveled to Central America in 2016 to join us for our annual Extraordinary Coffee Workshop for the first time. There he visited the Coopedota cooperative that is source our annual Flecha Roja Costa Rica offering. He was so impressed and inspired by the quality of the co-op’s mill and post-harvest processing that as soon as he hit the ground back home in Burundi, he immediately set about modifying the design of two new washing stations that were under construction and implementing changes to the two washing stations already in operation at Buziraguhindwa and Mbirizi.
The improvements included tiled fermentation and soaking tanks, an important contributor to clean washing that has become a common feature of mills in the Americas but one not seen too often in Burundi. KPC’s washing stations were already among the best examples anywhere in our Direct Trade network of meticulous attention to detail and exhaustive sorting and separation throughout the entire post-harvest process, from the moment cherry is delivered to the day it is finally removed from raised beds. These marginal improvements in CWS infrastructure have only made KPC’s coffee even better.
And that’s just at the washing stations. Ramadhan has also begun implementing some of the agronomic practices he saw in Costa Rica on his own growing network of farms and incorporated them in KPC’s agronomic extension services.
Ramadhan is a rising star in our Direct Trade family who delivers pristine coffees for our annual single-origin Burundi releases from his growing network of washing stations in Burundi. He has also become a coffee bee, buzzing from one origin to another and taking ideas and inspirations from our Direct Trade partners in other countries. If Burundi’s emerging specialty coffee sector is a flower, then the ideas and practices that Ramadhan brings home with him are the pollen helping it bloom. We are excited to share with you this Buzira Burundi Limited Release, whose intense aromatics and persistent sweetness represent the lovely blossom of Burundi’s coffee sector.
Purchase our Buzira Burundi Limited Release and meet the growers behind it here.