Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian, the founder of JNP Coffee, is without a doubt one of the most influential individuals in Burundi coffee today.
Raised in the capital city of Bujumbura, Jeanine would go on to earn an MBA from Northwestern University’s prestigious Kellogg School, cycle through corporate America, and eventually reconnect with her birth country by founding Burundi Friends International, a not-for-profit funding educational and economic empowerment programs for rural Burundians, which is now in its 13th year. After a few years marketing Burundi coffees stateside for friends and family, Jeanine realized she had every reason to lead the business, and JNP Coffee was born.
Coffee grown in Ngozi Province has a special meaning for Jeanine, as that is where her mother grew up. Memories of her mother, leading the family’s coffee harvest to cover school fees, are woven into the name for this coffee. Bavyeyi in Kirundi translates to “parents,’’ a name given to honor the generations of hardworking parents, like Jeanine’s, whose labor in coffee (something many farming families either do not consume or cannot afford to consume) provides shelter, nourishment, and educational opportunities to their children. The producer group is women-owned and works closely with JNP Coffee’s trained Q Graders in Burundi on best quality practices and lot curation. Indeed, this coffee itself is comprised of five unique processing lots from different days throughout harvest.
Drying naturals in the high and cool Ngozi climate is a painstakingly slow process, often taking 45 to 60 days to complete, during which the coffee is continuously circulated for even air exposure. Despite having one of the longest drying periods in the world, the cup profile is noticeably mild in process, expressing a piqued raisin sweetness, rich almond paste, and brisk orange acidity.
JNP Coffee is highly focused on women’s empowerment, and along with a few local women’s rights advocates, supported the Burundi chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance. IWCA farmer members in Burundi now number more than 2,000, whose coffee is differentiated by membership, marketed for its traceability and impact, and has generated end-of-year premiums. JNP Coffee has created additional programs to expand their farmer base and generate Dushime™ premiums. It seems they can’t expand fast enough. In Kayanza and Ngozi, the heart of the nation’s coffee production regions, competition for cherry can be fierce, so washing stations may pay well above the country’s minimum price to court premium harvests. JNP Coffee goes a step further, returning second payments to farmers and investing in opportunities for education and community building.