“This way… to Mahonda, Burundi!”
Burundi hosted its first ever Cup of Excellence in 2012, and I was very fortunate to be selected for the jury. The competition was held over 6 days of calibration and cupping, cupping, and re-cupping with head judge Paul Songer.
As anyone who has ever traveled in Africa knows, you can’t take much for granted when it comes to utilities. Daily power outages are a way of life, which makes for some inconvenience to both roasters and cuppers who are trying to make their way through multiple samples in a controlled and consistent way. Fortunately the coffees made it worth the effort. The coffees that made it through the army of international cuppers to score 85+ and earn the title “Cup of Excellence” were of exceptional quality.
Sadly, close to half of the coffees were eliminated for “potato taste” defect, which is commonly found in coffees from Burundi, and in coffees from neighboring Rwanda. As the name implies, it tastes just like there is a slice of raw potato in your coffee.
I am writing this from a desk in Kigali, Rwanda, where I have spent the last 2 days talking with my good friend and respected colleague Dr. Mario Serracin, about the “potato taste” defect, how difficult it has been to pinpoint the cause of the defect, yet how close he believes they may be to identifying the source of the contaminant. (Dr. Serracin will be traveling to Sydney in late June to give a seminar to Single Origin Roasters clients on the “Dynamics of Coffee Producing and Harvesting”, a not to be missed opportunity, watch for your invitation!)
One of the cool things about volunteering to spend a week cupping coffees with a CoE international jury, is that you get to see how you score a certain coffee over many passes. When going back through my notes in preparation to bid on my favorite coffees at the auction, I discovered that I had consistently scored Mahonda #3 very high over many blind rounds.
We were thrilled to be the winning bidders of this exceptional lot, and happy to let more of Australia taste such a great coffee by on-sharing it with roasters who were keen to showcase it, Five Senses and Proud Mary.
I traveled to Burundi last week, after attending the Africa Fine Coffee Association conference held in Kampala, Uganda. My goal was to learn more about the organization of the group, their quality controls, and of course to pursue becoming their exclusive Australian partner. I’m very happy to report that we reached an agreement, and in just a few short weeks they will begin harvesting the coffee that we will be enjoying later this year.
Please enjoy a coffee that has really beaten the odds, Mahonda CoE #3! Make sure to have your orders in for this one! We’ll be light roasting this gem on Tuesday 5th of March and Tuesday 19th of March for dispatch on the following days.
Wendy de Jong is our coffee buyer here at Single O. With our new cupping lab ready to go at Botany, Wendy will be holding some exciting cupping sessions and an upcoming Single O Coffee Guest Series. Stay tuned fo more info by subscribing to our feedburner.