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Announcing the Whole Crop Burundi Buhorwa Project

December 20, 2010
Category: in Burundi Travel and Program Updates

Crop to Cup Coffee Co is excited to announce Whole Crop, a groundbreaking new coffee project, as we expand our farmer engagement into Burundi.  This has been 2 years in the making, searching out the right farmers and the right partners to be sure that this was something that could actually happen.

The project is centered in and around a washing station called Burhorwa, which is located in Muramvya Province, northeast of the capital, Bujumbura.  Both the washing station setup (2nd highest altitude station in the country, and utilizing a siphon density cherry separation system) and the surrounding region are beautiful.  But that's not why we chose to work with Buhorwa.  What makes Buhorwa ideal is the eager determination of the farmers, station staff and local partners to engage and be creative in finding ways to improve coffee and improve livelihoods.

On our end, we've agreed to be long term partners - we plan on spending considerable time at Buhorwa to understand the challenges the farmers face, and we plan on buying considerable volumes of coffee from this community of roughly 600 family farmers both this year and in the years to come.

The goal: improve overall processes including lot separation and transparency, increase quality and the percentage of high quality coffee as a portion of the entire harvest, and assist farmers in receiving sustainable, fair payments for their entire community's product.  To achieve this on a community-wide scale, we have made a pledge to build sustainable markets not only for each year's top lots (which essentially sell themselves), but also for the lower grades that this station - like every coffee community - will inevitably produce and which farmers must often sell to local traders at below-cost prices.

Our payment process to farmers at Buhorwa is based on a double premium system - a "relationship" premium paid before export, and a second, "quality" premium paid after we've imported the coffee and a 3rd party panel has sampled and scored each separate lot.  Higher scores receive higher premiums.  So while the project commits to helping farmers sell all of their quality levels, year-after-year quality improvement is intrinsically built in.

We specialty coffee professionals often gloat about paying high prices for top quality, though we often end up leaving farmers in the dust to sell off the lower quality portions of their harvest, which are often much larger lots than the top grades anyway.  So farmers end up breaking even as we "pay top prices for quality," and the cycle of poverty continues.  That's what we're trying to change.

But we're a small company, and we're just the importer, green coffee distributor, and a relatively small roasted coffee brand.  Who will actually drive this project?   You will - our customers - from the microroasters who buy our greens to roast for their own brands, to the private label brands and foodservice contracts that we supply, to the restaurants, cafes and online shoppers who serve and sip our roasted Crop to Cup brand.

If you're interested and you're a roaster, contact us today to receive more info and green samples as soon as they become available soon.

If you stand elsewhere in the coffee industry - from a restaurant owner to a market to a home coffee lover - contact us with your questions and needs.  We'll get you involved and serving Burundi Buhorwa in no time.

And here's the best news of all.  Our first import of Buhorwa's coffee is on the water right now - it's about two weeks out and is scheduled to arrive at the port of NY/NJ on Jan 3 - you can track progress of the container here.   Although not the entire harvest, our first import is 260 bags - about 34,000 lbs - and our unique offering consists of 6 different lots and grades.

Next year's harvest will hopefully include you - coffee lovers and coffee professionals across all levels of the industry - enabling the Buhorwa community to sell its entire harvest into a sustainable market.  We have a long road ahead, but once we crack open that first container at Newark in a few weeks we will have taken one massive step forward.

We look forward to having you involved! Click here to get in touch.

Hey, want to visit Buhorwa with us?  Roasters and coffee lovers are welcome to join us for all or part of our 4 week stay there in April.  Lots of work to do!

Map showing Buhorwa location (green arrow) below:

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