Like almost all East African producing countries, Burundi started growing coffee at the behest of European settlers. After independence in 1962, coffee farming was in private hands for more than two decades. The quality and quantity of coffee produced during this period was very low, however, due to the political turmoil that followed, and the lack of interest in the perpetuation of the coffee industry by the private sector, eventually the coffee sector and its entire infrastructure was taken over by the state, which controlled the coffee trade for more than three decades.
The hope was that the government would strengthen quality and improve productivity and profitability for coffee, but these results did not materialise as expected. After several years of strict government control, the state partially relinquished control over the coffee trade, creating public and private coffee companies for processing and exporting coffee. The coffee sector has continued to move in the direction of privatisation since then, and the quality and reputation of Burundi's coffee has steadily improved since 2009. Today, coffee is this small nation's number one export crop and has played an important role in stabilising the country despite periods of civil unrest. In that sense, investing in Burundian coffee can make a big difference in the quality of life for producers. Traditionally in Burundi all drums were made from a tree called Umuvugangoma and people used to plant these types of trees in the hills of Kibira. Today we find some washing station, producing some of the best, fully washed coffees in the world. This station processes cherries from around 18 hills and does so individually to maintain the quality of each batch while maintaining the unique flavours associated with the altitude, the soil of the area where they were planted and the care given by the farmers who grow and harvest those plants.