Burundi Munkaze Natural - SOLD OUT
This coffee comes from our friend Jake at Homage Coffee Source. Jake was kind in paying us a visit in Arkansas just before the holidays. Together we cupped a few coffees, and we selected this lot in his lineup. This natural-processed Bourbon variety comes from the Munkaze station, in northern Burundi. One of four stations that Homage works with, Munkaze, is run by a Burundi coffee legend, Ephrem Sebatigita. Ephrem's background in coffee is a family affair; his grandfather was one of the first to plant a coffee farm in Kayanza in the late '30s. After a formal education in France, Ephrem went on to work on a team that created the first pilotless metro in Lille, France. Returning to Burundi in 1984, it's no doubt that his education played a key role in his day to day running the washing station. Processing coffee is equal parts science and art, not to mention the logistics it takes to receive and deliver coffee and payment. The Munkaze station took 2nd in the 2018 Burundi Cup of Excellence, just behind Ephrem's own grandfather. Recently they've taken a keen focus in processing, producing small lots of naturals with a very unique taste profile. When processed in full cherry, coffees from Munkaze take on a complex sweetness of plum and raw sugar. It's clear that this complex sweetness is due to the careful farming and processing practices put into place by the Munkaze station.
BURUNDI COFFEE HISTORY
Sometimes you come for delicious coffee, and you get a history lesson on the side… The history of coffee production in Burundi has been tumultuous. Burundi was colonized by the Belgians during Europe's coffee house boom, making coffee a cash crop nearly exclusively exported to Europe. Colonization is historically very bad for farmers, and during this time farmers were regulated into growing a certain number of trees, all while receiving very little money for the hard work of production. Once the ‘60’s rolled around, Burundi gained independence and coffee production was privatized. Post-colonial Burundi was far from peaceful, however. The people of Burundi endured an unthinkable civil war lasting decades while the country changed hands. Coffee played a very small part in the lives of the people of Burundi during this time. A peace treaty was signed in the summer of 2000, starting the long and slow process of ending the civil war. The economy emerged in the early ‘00’s, and for the first time coffee was looked upon as a viable crop. Despite infrastructure challenges and fuel shortages, coffee has risen in popularity in the specialty market. Coffee has become vital to the economy as a leading export, mostly made up of small-holder producers with less than a hectare. As coffee continues to grow (literally) in popularity as a crop, many hope that this will lead to infrastructure improvements in the coffee producing regions of Burundi.
NATURALLY PROCESSED COFFEE
Natural coffees are beautiful…Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly and are pretty much the worst thing ever when not. Natural processing or dry processing refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. After the coffee cherries are picked from the tree they are placed on perforated drying beds to allow airflow all around the cherry. They are dried in the sun until they have 12% moisture content or so and then hulled to remove the dry husk of the fruit. Naturally (get it?), they exhibit fruit-forward characteristics and have a good chance of tasting “fermenty,” which is usually a taboo in Specialty Coffee. However, with an advanced technique in picking and drying, high-quality naturals are being produced, and the cup quality and taste profiles are astoundingly good. We have long promoted alternative processing methods, and naturals are at the top of that list.
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
FILTER - Coming soon...
Burundi Munkaze Natural
This coffee came to us by way of Jake and his team at Homage Coffee Source. We cupped this coffee with him during his visit to our HQ in Rogers earlier this year. And it stood out as the only natural offering, with its complex sweetness and silky texture. We purchased fifteen 60-kilo bags at $5.00 per pound. We cupped this coffee at an 86.5 on an SCA score sheet after arrival.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.15/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we bought this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.