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About this coffee
NOTES: STEWED CARAMEL APPLES, SPICED PEAR, CINNAMON, DARK BROWN SUGAR, CREAMY SWEET COCOA BODY.
Masha coffee washing station located in the Kayanza province of Burundi shares its name with the sub hill upon which it stands and is actually more famous for its cattle than its coffee (the sub hill that is). The name Masha is derived from the Kirundi word “amasho” meaning “herds of cattle” The sub hill has been a crossroad for many herds in the region and many of the local herders even have a unique greeting for each other, used only in these parts which are appropriate considering that 70% of them own cows. Farmers grow mostly older bourbon types, the original coffee cultivar introduced to the area in the 1930s by Catholic monks traveling from the island of Reunion. Masha coffee washing station (“CWS”) sits at just under 1700 meters above sea level, and many of the farmers have coffee planted much higher than this. They’ve been around since 1989, and in 2012 were top placement in Burundi Cup of Excellence competition, no small task.
HISTORY OF BURUNDI
Coffee production has been something of a roller coaster in Burundi, with wild ups and downs: During the country’s time as a Belgian colony, coffee was a cash crop, with exports mainly going back to Europe or to feed the demand for coffee by Europeans in other colonies. Under Belgian rule, Burundian farmers were forced to grow a certain number of coffee trees each—of course receiving very little money or recognition for the work. Once the country gained its independence in the 1960s, the coffee sector (among others) was privatized, stripping control from the government except when necessary for research or price stabilization and intervention. Coffee farming had left a bad taste, however, and fell out of favor; quality declined, and coffee plants were torn up or abandoned.
After the civil war–torn 1990s and the nearly total devastation of the country’s economy, coffee slowly emerged as a possible means to recover the agrarian sector and increase foreign exchange. In the first decade of the 2000s, inspired in large part by neighboring Rwanda’s success rebuilding through coffee, Burundi’s coffee industry saw an increase in investment, and a somewhat healthy balance of both privately and state-run coffee companies and facilities has created more opportunity and stability, and has helped Burundi establish itself as an emerging African coffee-growing country, despite its small size and tumultuous history.
Like Rwanda and, to a lesser extent, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi battles the infamous “potato defect,” a microorganism that contributes a raw-potato-like flavor and aroma to infected beans, and which can’t be detected by sight in parchment, green, or roasted coffee. Research efforts to eradicate the defect completely have shown promise, and we look forward to the day when the potato is a distant memory.