Notes: Berry, Concord Grape & Black Tea
Origin: Nemba, Kayanza, Burundi
Producers: 3,113 Smallholder Farmers Surrounding the Nemba Washing Station
Importer: Collaborative Coffee Source
Altitude: 1700-2000 masl
Harvest: Fall 2021
Varieties: Red Bourbon
Nemba is a unique offering for us not only because it represents our first coffee from Burundi but also due to its sun-dried processing. It's no secret that we overwhelmingly favor the balance, complexity and predictability (both from a farming and roasting perspective) of washed process coffees. However, this coffee stood out so much in our sample tastings that we had to share it! Even when nestled between new crop Kenya samples, Nemba was among our favorite coffees on the table.
Along with Rwanda, Burundi represents a specialty coffee origin in development. There has been special focus in recent years to raise the bar in terms of quality in an effort to bring higher incomes to producers in these countries. Also like Rwanda, coffee from Burundi is also susceptible to the potato defect. The potato defect is known to be caused by a puncture in the coffee cherry skin by the Antestia insect or by a split in the cherry due to heavy rains during the ripening phase. These punctures allow airborne bacteria to enter the coffee cherry and develop aromatic compounds found in bell peppers, potatoes, and peas. The defective coffee beans are extremely difficult to sort out before packaging as there is no apparent way to identify them in either the green or roasted phase so they inevitably find their way into bags of even the highest quality lots. We go through great lengths to sort out potato defect when offering these coffees by bagging the retail coffee, leaving them out for about 30 min and smelling each bag to try and detect the defect before it ends up in your hands. Despite all of this effort there are still a small amount of defective beans make it past our quality control. Fortunately these defective beans are perfectly safe to consume and have no impact on human health. The sure fire way to identify them is when the coffee is ground. To avoid brewing your coffee with this defect in the cup, we suggest grinding your dose as usual and smelling the ground coffee. The ground coffee should smell sweet and fruity, if it smells like potato, peas or bell pepper at all, throw that batch into the compost and grind again.
Why would we even offer coffee knowing it contains a small amount of defective beans?
The instance of this defect is very rare. Its estimated that on average, beans inoculated with the potato defect are found around twice per 5 pounds of coffee. We believe that these stunning and delicious coffees don't deserve to be disqualified from our menu due to the low probability of this defect making its way into our grinders.