Burundi Coffee Is on the Rise — for Good Reason

Burundi Coffee Is on the Rise — for Good Reason

Small in size, but mighty in possibilities.
by Team Trade | May 01, 2019

Ask a group of coffee professionals what their favorite coffee origins are, and you’ll probably get a pretty solid amount of African countries in your answer set. Coffee, after all, was first discovered in Africa, and more specifically in the Ethiopian coffee sector, from where it then spread throughout the world through colonial trade routes, eventually reaching the United States. And Ethiopian coffee history is still well-known for a wide variety of delicious, fruity coffees that, for many of us, opened our eyes to “coffee that doesn’t just taste like coffee.” Kenya is another typical favorite with its ultra-bright, savory, full-bodied, and super-clean coffees that excite us with flavors like lime and tomato. But there are newer favorites emerging in Africa as well, and the key among them is the country of Burundi, a true maker of specialty coffee.

At around the size of Maryland, Burundi is a relatively small country in East Africa compared to most of its coffee-growing neighbors, and its coffee-producing history is relatively short. In its 56 years of independence, it has been wracked by civil war and instability, ranking by many measures1 as one of the poorest countries in the world.

"As a land-locked country, Burundi, as well as the East African region generally, faces critical infrastructure challenges, particularly roads to bring coffee to ports," says Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian, who founded the exporting company JNP Coffee in 2012. "Coffee is very clearly part of my vision for supporting my homeland of Burundi."

Instrumental in the growing popularity of Burundi’s coffees among American roasters, Jeanine has been helping roasters, and importers connect with increasingly quality coffee blends ever since while also continuing her work with the nonprofit Burundi Friends International. "Coffee has presented itself as an opportunity to lift people out of poverty," Jeanine tells us. "It's an opportunity for coffee drinkers to support coffee farmers directly. Coffee represents an amazing way to empower women on so many levels. The financial literacy education we provide through Burundi Friends International offers women new ways to support themselves. The premiums women coffee farmers receive from JNP Coffee have already provided the means to start new businesses and build a new washing station."

It’s a nation whose people you desperately want to root for, and though Burundi coffee and overall economic success aren’t always linked, organizations like the active Burundi chapter of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and the socially minded efforts of exporters like JNP give hope that the growth of Burundi’s coffee farms and coffee production within the industry could have a positive effect on this wonderful country.

The flavor profiles of the finest coffees emerging from Burundi are most exciting in their Simone Biles level of balance. They’re generally not the so-called “coffee coffees” that just taste like an elevated version of the flavors everyone knows, and they’re not the citric acid bombs from Kenya or flower garden coffees of Ethiopia either. Burundi coffee occupies, a comfortable yet refined space right in the middle. And while balance might seem like a hard thing to get excited about, the way Burundi coffees deliver clean citrus and stone fruit notes while leveling them out with dark, brown sugar flavors like caramel and raisin makes them coffees that pretty much anyone can thoroughly enjoy. To learn more about coffee flavor profiles and determine which brew is best for you, take our coffee quiz!

As with many up-and-coming coffee-producing countries, improved infrastructure has led to both higher overall quality coffee and a wider variety of offerings. For example, if those delightfully balanced washed coffees aren’t exciting enough on their own, Burundi has fairly recently started producing natural process coffees with all the slightly funky, ripe fruit flavors that natural African coffees are known for. "People have come to understand that higher quality coffees improve the chances of higher prices," Jeanine tells us.

And if you’re interested in other types of coffees or recipes, we’ve got you covered. From Lungo coffee to coffee ice cream, Trade is here to help you espresso your love for coffee.


  1. https://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GNIPC.pdf
  2. https://www.jnpcoffee.com/our-founder
  3. https://www.bufri.org/
  4. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/51d3052de4b001d5c138c4f7/t/5bffebfb562fa7fa69c19f7a/1543498758898/IWCACaseStudy_Burundi.pdf
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq2-80wYxbU
  6. https://www.drinktrade.com/onboarding/question/1
  7. https://www.drinktrade.com/
  8. https://www.drinktrade.com/blog/education/what-is-lungo-espresso
  9. https://www.drinktrade.com/blog/education/best-coffee-ice-cream

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