How Coffee Impacts Culture in Burundi

May 16, 2023 Abby Phillips

How Coffee Impacts Culture in Burundi

In our blog series, Coffee Impacts Culture, we see how both coffee impacts culture and culture impacts coffee. The beauty of coffee is that it is cultural by nature—universally and regionally. At Baba Java, we cherish the gift that culture brings to coffee. How coffee takes its many forms and enjoyment within the culture it inhabits is nothing short of remarkable. 

In this blog, we’re diving into the Burundi coffee culture. Located in the eastern-central part of Africa, Burundi borders Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the crest of the Nile-Congo watershed, Burundi’s growing regions are mountainous and perfect for growing delightfully fruity and delicious coffee. 

Try a cup of Burundi coffee today!

The History of Coffee in Burundi

Many people are not aware that Burundi is a coffee-growing country. Burundi, however, is making a name for itself in the specialty coffee industry. The humble beginnings of Burundi coffee growing began in the 1930s when Belgian colonists introduced the Arabica coffee plant to the growing regions. To this day, Arabica still makes up most Burundi coffee. This allows the country to cultivate and harvest the highest quality coffee. 

Most farmers’ livelihoods depend on the crops of coffee to do well. With an agrarian-based economy, for many, coffee is life. With its attempt to be a loud voice in the coffee-exporting world, Burundi is becoming a more prominent coffee fixture on the map. So, what is the Burundi coffee culture like? How does coffee impact the farmers’ livelihood? 

Burundi Culture

The Burundi culture and economy have excelled because of coffee. Burundi coffee provides sustainable living conditions. Quality of life deepens when coffee cultivation is at its highest. The Burundi coffee community also hosts the Cup of Excellence and other events related to specialty coffee affairs, which is growing in prominence and regularity. In their endeavor to cultivate greater market opportunity and profit sales, farmers are exploring better ways to process coffee. Coffee is the country’s largest cash crop, and farmers are doing their best to confront environmental changes that can cost people their way of life. Coffee farmers are a part of generational family affairs—long-owned family farms and estates, sometimes four or five generations ongoing.  

Culturally, coffee changes lives. From farm to cup, coffee pays the bills, houses families, buys school uniforms for children, and the list goes on. Coffee is much more than simply a morning beverage to start the day. Unfortunately, farmers are not being compensated for their coffee as they rightly should, so interest and motivation stoop to a real low. Producing higher-quality coffee has proven to give a higher return on investment and higher profit overall. This is a major reason why specialty coffee is so important, as it has a significant impact on culture.

It cannot be lost how important it is to buy certified specialty coffee from Burundi. The importance impacts the people of Burundi, the farmers, and their families. Coffee impacts Burundi’s culture in an authentic and palpable sense. The reality of Burundi coffee harvests is the reality of paying the bills and the livelihoods of so many families. It’s not charity, it’s reality. From smaller harvests to bad weather conditions, this affects the lifecycle of not only the coffee plant but the people who grow it.  

Learn more about other coffee cultures around the world. 

Baba Java’s partnership with Homage Coffee

At Baba Java, we source, roast, brew, and sell delicious coffee from Burundi. Boasting notes of lime and sweet cherry, this coffee is only one of the many immaculate coffees from this amazing country. We’re proud to partner with Homage Coffee to bring you this direct-trade coffee from the Ngozi Province of Burundi. Homage is committed to coffee excellence in East Africa while cultivating and upholding authentic partnerships with producers. Their on-site, hands-on approach supports producers by creating fair wages and generating growth opportunities throughout the supply chain. This is the heart of what specialty coffee is all about. 

Next time you enjoy a cup or buy a tube of coffee from Burundi, remember the hands that first cultivated and harvested the beans. They matter just as much as the hands that roast and brew it, too! The intentionality behind the personal relationships between green coffee buyers and farmers is a matter of sustainability or poverty. Burundi might make up a small percentage of coffee exported worldwide, but they speak volumes of what specialty coffee can really do in the hearts and lives of the people that run along the supply chain. This is the beauty of how coffee impacts culture, and culture impacts coffee. 
Are you interested in learning about coffee culture in other societies? Check out our recent blogs on the cultural impact of coffee in Columbia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, and more!