Our second and final release from Burundi for the season sees us revisit the Businde washing station, juxtaposing the previous naturally processed lot with a fully washed coffee. Working with long-time CCR partners Raw Material and their local partner Matraco Coffee allows us to support a pricing structure that ensures the farmers are paid a quality-based premium significantly over the commercial rate. Expect to find a crisp, squeaky clean and floral coffee that abounds with fresh fruit characteristics, indicative of top quality processing.
Comparing and contrasting processing methods from a single washing station is always an exciting prospect, allowing us to tease out the nuances of terroir and how this can be enhanced through the various steps of preparation. Following the stunning naturally processed lot from the Businde station (offered as a single origin espresso), we have a delicate, bright and complex washed coffee. We find a clear thread of commonality between the two: the natural lot showed tropical fruit notes underpinned by funky, fermented fruit characteristics, but the washed lot, however, contrasts this with crisper, fresher fruit notes.
To achieve this quality, the coffee is first floated in water to remove any under-ripe cherries. The riper cherries, which are denser and heavier, are then fed into a pulping machine, which separates the seed of the cherry from the skin and fruit. The seeds are soaked in a tank of water for 12-18 hours, allowing the local microflora to digest and loosen the last remaining bits of fruit attached to the beans. This short fermentation unlocks a crisp and bright acidity, the result of a complex interplay of microbial and enzymatic chemistry.
To finish the processing, the real ace up the sleeve is the use of grading channels, a practice widely confined to East Africa. The coffee is released from the tank into long winding channels, gently sloped with a steady stream of fresh water which washes and cleans the beans. By brushing and scrubbing them against the flow of the water, there is a further stage of density separation – the lighter, lower quality floating down the channel whilst the top quality denser beans remains sunk near the top. This allows the station to capture the maximum value for its coffee – separating lots into the top, medium and commercial grades to achieve the best price point for each. This value is fed back into the local economy with significant premiums paid to the farmers who contribute cherry to the Businde station.