Tasting notes: Creamy and bright with flavors of strawberry, cherry, and orange cream soda.

Price: 16 oz bag - $21.00


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    About This Coffee

    Busasa Coffee Washing Station, established in the Gashoho area in 2014, operates with a dedicated team of 6 full-time members and up to 150 seasonal workers. The station features 151 African drying beds and sources from 1600 farmers in the surrounding hills. Notably, Busasa’s producers receive a 20% premium above the local market rate, while staff enjoys wages nearly 60% higher than the Burundi average. This commitment extends across Matraco’s portfolio, which includes two more washing stations in Northern Burundi. Matraco also supports local farmers by distributing composted coffee pulp as fertilizer and donating seedlings.

    Matraco’s coffee journey began with a truck. Founder Zuberi Matsitsi got his start transporting coffee in trailer trucks, eventually amassing a fleet of over 10 trucks. In 2015, Matraco expanded into coffee production. Today, Matraco continues to transport coffee in their own trucks, ensuring close quality oversight in an area where transportation remains something of a challenge.

    Growing Coffee In Burundi

    One clear indicator of a focus on quality is an increase in washing stations in a country where transportation is a challenge. The closer a washing station is to coffee trees, the greater control over quality and micro-climate specific separations. Burundi has seen a significant increase in the number of washing station over the last ten years and in recent years internal economic structures have liberalized enough for growers to experience increased income for increased quality. The cool highlands, soil, and altitude are ideal for growing excellent coffee.

    History of Coffee in Burundi

    During colonization, Belgians forced the people of Burundi to grow coffee to pay taxes, an all too familiar story. So, it is understandable that after independence, the farmers of Burundi were less than enthusiastic about growing coffee and there was almost no focus on quality. When world coffee prices dropped to historic lows 20 years ago, prices paid to farmers by government-run washing stations were so low that coffee was smuggled into neighboring countries to be sold as Rwandan or Tanzanian coffee. When prices began to rise and become relatively stable, Burundi coffee farmers in the northern highlands did not forget that Rwanda received better prices for quality. The coffee farmers of Burundi began to emulate some of what was happening in Rwanda, forming cooperatives and seeking ways to improve quality.

    *A Quick Note about 'Potato Defect', which can occur in coffees from Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, and Uganda*

    Potato Defect, or 'Potato Taste Defect' (PTD) is caused by a chemical called 2-Isopropyl 3-methoxy pyrazine (IPMP). In its strongest instances, this potato smell can be apparent in the air at the farm, in the green coffee including the cherry and parchment, as well as the roasted and brewed product. While there are ongoing, intensive efforts at the farm level to reduce the number of PTD incidences, there is currently no way to sort out the defect in the green or roasted coffee in a scalable manner.

    For the specialty coffee industry in the regions affected by PTD, this defect has caused seemingly insurmountable issues at the farm level with direct consequences on the amount roasters purchase from affected regions as well as the selling power of area producers. Agronomists and biologists have proposed many theories and conducted numerous studies about the possible causes of Potato Taste Defect beginning as early as the 1950s, but currently there are no proven solutions to significantly eradicate the rate of defect.

    Identifying Potato Taste Defect

    There are very low, if any, visual identifiers that correlate to PTD defective seeds (or coffee beans). In fact, most defective seeds look perfectly normal to the human eye and show no visible insect damage or UV fluorescence. Therefore, unlike other defects, there is no “preventative maintenance” in processing or sorting methodologies that the producer can do to ensure a highly reduced rate of PTD.

    PTD seems to be a defect solely detectable via gustation and olfaction. We have done research to better understand the defect occurrence rate in the coffees we buy, and are sharing our recommended protocols to avoid tasting the defect when brewing.

    How Prevalent Is Potato Taste Defect?

    In our research tracking PTD, the average occurrence rate of this defect is 1 in approximately 1550 grams in the coffees we buy. This means in every 3.3 pounds or so, the likelihood of hitting one PTD coffee bean is fairly high. It also means that the chances of experiencing potato defect in a 12 oz bag are low. Of course, there is a large element of randomness involved in this—that is just the nature of the beast.

    In whole-bean coffee, there is no issue with transference. For example, if you open a bag and it smells of potato, the whole bag is not tainted. It is more than likely one defective coffee bean that simply smells very strong.

    There is no known toxicity in the defect itself, and it is safe to consume, should you encounter it once brewed. However, since one defective bean can affect the taste of the resulting brew, we are sharing our recommended steps to take to avoid tasting potato.

    Suggested Protocol To Avoid Tasting Potato

    • When preparing to brew coffees from these regions, be sure to diligently smell the ground coffee before brewing.
    • Grind your coffee in small amounts instead of grinding the whole bag at once. For home brewing, we recommend grinding <30 grams at a time. For batch brewing, we recommend grinding 100 grams at a time.
    • If you only smell delicious coffee, continue brewing and enjoying these incredible coffees!
    • If you are not sure, and you think you might be smelling potato, well, it is probably because you learned about PTD so your brain is telling you it is there. It might not be!

    What To Do If You Smell Potato

    If you smell raw potato (you’ll know!) in the grounds before brewing:

    • Compost the grounds
    • Purge the grinder of any remaining chaff/fines
    • If possible, grind through approximately 30g of coffee that is guaranteed to not have PTD (such as a coffee from Guatemala, Colombia, etc.) as to prevent transference to the next batch of coffee

    Country: Burundi

    Region: Gashoho, Muyinga

    Farm: Busasa Coffee Washing Station

    Elevation: 1600-1800 MASL

    Variety: Bourbon

    Processing: Natural

    Tasting notes: Creamy and bright with flavors of strawberry, cherry, and orange cream soda.

    Website orders are roasted and packed every Monday and picked up Tuesday by USPS for delivery. As we only roast exactly as much of each coffee as we have known orders for, please be sure and place your order no later than 10 AM (PST) on Monday for fulfillment that week. Orders that come in later than that may not be fulfilled until the following week.

    Here is a quick guide to what our shipping rates are based on the quantity you order:

    Orders weighing 0 - 7.99 Pounds ship for $8.00.

    Orders weighing 8 Pounds or more ship for Free!

    (If you live in the Seattle area and would like to know where you can find Velton's Coffee locally, check out our handy guide!) 

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