Intro by Chris Kornman
This “triple washed” coffee from Burundi has undergone rigorous processing to ensure high quality, and we’re thrilled to have such delicious options in stock to share.
The triple washing indicates that the coffee was floated as cherries (1) before being pulped and fermented. It then is washed (2) in channels and scrubbed and sorted for density before undergoing a post-fermentation soak (3) prior to drying on raised beds. The result is a coffee with a lot of citric zestiness, black tea and strong caramel notes, and a full velvety viscosity and long molasses-y finish. It sets a high bar for coffees from this area of the world, both in terms of flavor and based on the fact that we’ve cupped it perhaps a dozen times now and still haven’t found a potato cup. It was a harrowing year getting coffee in from Burundi, but here we are and the results — despite some extreme and unexpected logistical hurdles — speak for themselves.
This is our third year working with Salum Ramadhan, who now is responsible for coffees from four washing stations in northern Burundi. His attention to quality and detail are second to none. The fermentation tanks and washing channels are immaculate, parchment dries in thin layers on well-organized beds, and Salum pays well above average for both daily labor and cherry deliveries from local farmers, in this instance separating the lot from a single community called Muruta. Each station is also surrounded by a multi-purpose farm, serving as test plots for new varieties and as examples of a well-run garden for local smallholders. He also recently completed his own mill, which he calls Trust Dry Mill, located nearby which helps ensure better efficiency in processing, storage, and exporting. Buzira (full name: Buziraguhindwa) was his first washing station, established in 2009, and now has around 3000 contributing farmers.
Salum Ramadhan is a self-made man, and a native of Kayanza, where he seems to know everyone. Kayanza is in the heart of Burundi’s coffee production area, second only to neighboring province Ngozi in total production volume. Coffee is the country’s leading export product, both by value (65%) and volume (90%), followed by tea, cotton, and sugar. The potential for quality arabica is incredibly high: ideal climate and growing conditions combined with old-growth heirloom varieties yield exceptional flavors. Political instability and logistics challenges continue to be the greatest stumbling blocks for access to the specialty coffee in the country. But with people like Salum leading the charge, we can see the pendulum swinging towards positive change.
Incoming coffees, mostly grown by local smallholders who are paid for cherry delivery at the washing station, are washed and floated for density before processing, even for natural process coffees. The naturals are then dried in a single-cherry layer spread across a vast network of drying tables.
Burundi is in the midst of ongoing political upheaval. This year is an election year and the government has begun the process of possibly nationalizing coffee production. It’s very likely that the landscape, both coffee and otherwise, will look somewhat different next year at this time.
For further reading on Burundi, you might start here, with a recent article published in Coffee Tea & I magazine.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
The regional risk of rain during the harvest season can make coffees like this one difficult to dry. Long times on drying beds, sometimes covered in yellow plastic tarp to protect from sudden thunderstorms, can bottleneck washing stations, and the temptation to rush parchment through the process can sacrifice quality. Luckily for us, Salum has invested in copious space for tables and employed well-trained workers for the task. This is a dense coffee, with perhaps the nicest moisture and water activity figures I’ve seen from Salum’s coffees yet.
Local varieties are usually part of the Bourbon group, and include regionally popular Jackson and Mbirizi, which were among the older trees distributed in the 1950s. Newer cultivars exist, and Salum keeps a variety garden on site at his washing stations as an example of the kinds of trees that perform well in the microregion. Farmers in the region are also growing classic Kenyan SL-28 and the newer Batian variety, as well as K7, another Scott Lab selection.
The threat of potato may still scare roasters, but Salum’s washing stations are rigorous in cherry selection, flotation, and parchment sorting, and we’re fortunate to have secured especially clean coffees as a result. If you’d like to read a little more about the defect, including suggestions for talking points and service, take a peek at this article we ran last year.
Ikawa Analysis by Chris Kornman with Doris Garrido
We’ve updated our V2 Ikawa Pro machines with the latest Firmware version (24) and run on “closed loop” setting. Our roasters underwent full service in October of 2018 which included replacement heating elements and an updated PT 1000 temperature sensor, and were recalibrated in September 2019.
Crown Barista Doris Garrido took the helm at the Ikawa this week (who, when she’s not sample roasting or slinging cappuccinos on bar can be found mixing mezcal with coffee). Her preference for mellow coffees tends to color her roast profiles to the tune of slightly drawn out Maillard and first crack.
Here, she’s done both, and compared it to one of my profiles, to very nice results. My profile (in blue) yielded high floral tones and vanilla with plenty of cherry, citrus, and chocolate, but had a slightly matcha-like dryness at the finish. By contrast, Doris’ longer Maillard and lower temperature first crack brought out similar floral notes but with cleaner brown sugar sweetness, and lots of unique flavors ranging from lemongrass, passion fruit, pineapple, violet, lychee, and nougat. The coffee’s a winner either way, but Doris’ new roast profile sets the standard.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown 6m NatEth ck1.4
Roast 2: Crown 6m NatEth ck1.DG02
Roast Analysis by Alex Taylor
Here we are with yet another coffee I remember fondly from The Crown’s first few months of operation! If memory serves me correctly, we featured this coffee as espresso, pour-over, and cold brew. So if this year’s crop is anything like last year’s, this coffee really can do it all.
My first few roasts for the day had gone well, so I stuck with my plan: start with a low heat soak, turn up the gas shortly after turnaround, and start stepping off the gas a little after color change. As I roasted this coffee, I was (pleasantly) surprised to see if following almost the exact same curve as CJ1328, this coffee’s natural process counterpart. I’ve included both curves in the graphic here so you can see exactly how similarly the two coffees roasted. I can say for sure, but I’m inclined to tip my hat to Salum and the producers he works with. Both of these coffees are meticulously sorted and prepared, and I’d like to think such high preparation standards can contribute to easy-roastin’, as I like to call it. Much like the last two roasts, I very nearly bottomed out after first crack, but managed to give the coffee a little more heat just in time. By this roast, I should have recognized that the Probatino was running a little cooler than usual!
Cool roaster or not, this coffee tasted great on the cupping table the next day! We found lots of apple and cranberry acidity right up front, with juicy black cherry notes, and tons of sweet toffee, vanilla, and molasses. The finish was exceptional as well: super clean with light notes of black tea and a delicate florality that left you wanting more. This coffee has a surprising amount of fruitiness in it, but its complexity does not come at the cost of balance. I think any coffee lover could easily fall for this coffee!
Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Quest roasts. Generally, I’ll allow the machine to warm up for 15 minutes until my environmental temperature reading is at least 250F, weigh out 150g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here and my updated post here.
These lots from Burundi came in fresh and tasty – no small feat for a landlocked country that usually ships on FOT terms. This washed coffee in particular drew a lot of attention on the cupping table, and was a complete pleasure to roast. Go gently with the heat application, though, as this coffee really takes on heat.
I tried something new with this week’s Quest M3s roasts – starting at full heat application (about 11.5A) and maximum airflow until turning point. At 2:00 / 230F, I quickly reduced heat application to the usual 9.5A, and cut airflow to the minimum. This was a bit later than my other roasts this week, and even this slight difference was enough to get this coffee to hit the ground running. I was going for the most extreme heat an airflow method possible on the Quest, and it seems to have worked.
For this roast, I went directly for full airflow at 3:15 / 285F in order to slow this coffee down through Maillard, but it just kept on going. At 4:00 / 315F I reduced heat application to 7.5A, and turned off the heating element completely at 5:05 / 355F due to the momentum this coffee retained. This was the darkest coffee of the week at 12.1% roast loss percentage and 20.7% of time spent in Post-Crack Development. Dropping at 7:59 / 396.2F, this coffee didn’t get too dark – and it tasted amazing on the table.
Caramel, black tea, lychee, and limeade were noted at the table, all of which made me feel like a filter drip would be the best way to go about brewing this coffee. The gentle tropical notes of this coffee will definitely come through with careful preparation. Read on below for our brew analysis.
Burundi has seen some serious changes in the way coffee is handled, and the country is now moving to nationalize the coffee infrastructure. This could be either beneficial or detrimental to the specialty coffee industry there, but what’s sure is that there will be changes, and we may not see a coffee like this from Burundi again anytime soon. Savor it while you can!
Brew Analysis by Alex Taylor
It can be challenging to come up with new things to try for our weekly brew analysis, but this week we had a fun two-birds-with-one-stone sort of idea. We always color track our roasts to provide concrete numbers for roasters to be able to reference, but for our Quest roasts, this typically consumes all the coffee we just roasted! But this week, Evan asked “Why not use the ground coffee from color tracking for brew analysis?” Short answer, the coffee grounds for color track are usually finer than we prefer for manual brews, but still – we should have thought of this sooner. So for our first round of brews, Elise brewed up the quest roasts (using a Melodrip to try to accomodate the finer grind) and I brewed a round of v60’s using coffee from the Probatino roasts.
I think this coffee may have been the overall crowd favorite from the round of Quest brews! Just super easy drinking, big black cherry notes up front, as well as lime, honey, grapefruit, hibiscus, and milk chocolate. The Probatino brews were much lighter, but in the best way. I tasted red grape, black tea, lemon, clementine, caramel, and cocoa, with a super quick, clean finish. The difference between the two brews is testimony to how good this coffee will taste across different brew methods; this should please both the thick French press drinker in your family as well as those who prefer a lighter, more subtle cup!