From the Association of the Kavungangoma Washing station, near Mwakiro, which serves coffee farmers from 18 different hills surrounding the station, we are offering a "Natural Processed" coffee from Burundi.
What is so special about Burundi? Going back to 2006, when coffee roasting was still a hobby on the back porch, a group of Missionaries from Mars Hill Bible Church, which at the time was pastored by the now infamous Rob Bell, brought coffee back to Grand Rapids in suitcases. It was not good coffee. But it was the beginning of the now long term relationship with Burundi.
We then met Anne Ottaway and Dan Clay from Michigan State University, who would eventually help coffee farmers rebuild after the Genocide. They helped facilitate USAID funded investments in the coffee washing stations and brought specialty roasters from the US to Burundi to forge relationships and lift their coffee industry from commodity and low prices to a robust specialty business, yielding specialty coffee premiums and allow for additional revenues to improve their economies and their communities.
Richard Kaderi bult the Kavungangoma "sound of the drums," washing station in 2008. And also organized area farms to form APROCAME, "Association for the Promotion of Model Coffee producers and their Environment." For some reason, small cooperatives are always using acronyms that sound huge and industrial. When you're small and dreaming of big success, it must seem like a big name would help you get there.
Coffee tends to be tied into so many other things--development, social justice, poverty issues, and often succeeds in spinning off more than just money. Innovations in design, engineering, agriculture, art, architecture, community building and relationships and tourism often far exceed the mere sale of coffee to small specialty roasters in the USA and Europe. When I was a City Planner for The Chicago Park District, residents would sit in on our meetings announcing plans for a new park in their neighborhood, but afterward ask, "How can we get a Starbucks in our neighborhood?" It seems coffee and real estate prices are tied.
Richard has dabbled in a bunch of innovative "community improvements," such as his demonstration plot, which encourages best practices in coffee agronomy and processing. He also distributes compost to the growers, invests time and money in a local elementary school, a village park, a meeting center with public toilets, a beekeeping project and other infrastructure improvements which have brought pride and raised the quality of life for the area population.
In 2012 Richard was acknowledged for efforts at Kavugangoma to reduce CO2; awarded Cup of Excellence in 2015; built a warehouse which houses 100 tons of green "parchment" coffee (with outermost skin attached); a pit for waste-water treatment; solar energy to run lights; innovative sand filtered drinking water system; latrines which use no water. He has also begun offering his washing stations to farmers free of charge for 3 years.
This has resulted in experimentation with a new way to process coffee. "Natural Process" is when the beans are fermented and dried with the fruit on, then run through a "dry-mill" which removes the dried cherry, revealing a slightly fruity, earthy, and sweet bean, reminiscent of the best Ethiopian Naturals, known for their blueberry notes.
This unique "Burundi Kavungangoma Natural" has a brown butter crust center, with hints of strawberry-rhubarb pie, in a generous silky mouthfeel that is elegant yet assertive. Full flavored yet closer to a standard washed Burundi than, for example the excessive berry notes of an Ethiopian Natural. If you love Ethiopian Naturals or Burundi, this is a must try.