Sweetly uplifting 🇧🇮
Savor harmonious naturals from Burundi
Andrea Fabiani and Diane Nsengiyumva Fabiani, both agronomic engineers, comprise the husband-and-wife team leading the Kawasili Project, a progressive coffee processing center in Gahombo Commune, Kayanza Province, which is located in Buyenzi, one of the country’s five coffee-growing regions.
The Fabianis established Kawasili as a venue for natural and honey-focused post-harvest processing, intending to explore flavor diversification while contributing to environmental conservation via reduced water consumption and the prevention of potential contamination from washed-processing byproducts.
The Project has enabled the farmers they work with to differentiate and get more value back for their harvests by pivoting away from traditionally known citrusy Burundian flavor profiles towards more intense and syrupy attributes.
Not only do the Fabianis provide the appropriate facilities and expert oversight to facilitate purposeful processing methods that preserve the cherries’ inherent high quality and optimize their flavor potential. They also promote environmental stewardship and nurture their relationship with the farming community by sharing updated agricultural knowledge.
One example is around the use of organic inputs during cultivation, which protects biodiversity and soil health while also allowing for more desirable organoleptic qualities to develop within the cherries.
Growing up and having been educated and built a career in Italy but with roots in Burundi, Diane has always carried a fellow feeling for Burundian farmers and their families.
The Kawasili Project is one way she and Andrea contribute to bringing a sense of ease and stability into their lives, which have so often been subject to periods of upheaval. Another way is through enhancing the community’s financial literacy, with assistance from the humanitarian non-profit organization AVSI, which Andrea is involved in.
Kawasili, situated on a hill called Kivuvuma — among the picturesque, rolling terrains the country is known for — receives cherries from smallholding farmers in neighboring areas. In these parts, coffee trees grow amid ideal agroecological conditions, including elevations between 1700 to 1800 masl and an approximate average rainfall of 1650 mm.
Excepting vulnerability to leaf rust and coffee berry disease, Mibirizi is an otherwise low-maintenance, drought-tolerant variety with the potential for exceptional cup quality, which makes it an important variety for coffee growers in Burundi and neighboring Rwanda, where it is commonly cultivated.
It is reported to have been introduced to East Africa from Guatemala by way of Rwanda, and is noted to have descended from Typica and then eventually mixed with plants of Bourbon lineage that were first introduced from Kenya.
Whereas a washed Burundian Mibirizi might be expected to express a prominent citrus piquancy in the cup, the natural anaerobic process gave way to heightened sweetness, hinting at a tropical character, while keeping it balanced by crisp acidities.