Navigating Coffee Culture An Expats Guide to Burundi

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Welcome, expats, to the vibrant coffee culture of Burundi. Whether you're a seasoned coffee enthusiast or a green newcomer, this guide will offer insights and tips for immersing yourself in Burundi's coffee traditions and customs.

Understanding Coffee Origins and Production

Coffee plays a significant role in Burundi's economy, with around 90% of the population involved in coffee farming. While some beans are imported, it's essential to understand the significance of locally grown varieties as they tend to be of better quality and flavor than their imported counterparts.

  1. Coffee regions: Burundi's coffee is primarily grown in four different regions – Bujumbura, Cibitoke, Kirundo, and Bururi provinces. These regions have distinct microclimates and soil characteristics that contribute to the unique flavors and qualities of their coffee.
  2. Caravan Coffee: One of the ways to explore coffee plantations and farms in Burundi is by visiting cooperatives such as Caravan Coffee. These cooperatives provide an opportunity to learn about farming techniques, participate in coffee harvesting, and taste freshly brewed coffee while engaging with local communities.

Embracing Favorite Coffee Style Drinks

Burundi has a rich coffee culture, with a diverse array of coffee style drinks that cater to distinct preferences. Here's a rundown of some of the most popular coffee styles:

  • Espresso: Italians introduced espresso culture to Burundi, which has since caught on with the local population. Espresso is commonly served in small cappuccino cups and is an excellent choice for those who prefer a strong and concentrated flavor.
  • Café Au Lait: A popular choice for those who prefer their coffee milder, café au lait is a combination of espresso and hot milk. It's typically served as a breakfast beverage.
  • French Press: Also known as plunger coffee, the French press method allows for a more extended brew time, resulting in a more robust and complex flavor. This method is ideal for coffee connoisseurs who appreciate a full-bodied taste.
  • Turkish Coffee: Also known as "arabic coffee" in Burundi, Turkish coffee is a traditional coffee brewing method that offers a unique flavor experience. This method involves finely ground coffee beans that are boiled in a pot, resulting in a rich, thick, and highly concentrated coffee.

Embracing Coffee Drinking Customs and Traditions

Coffee is an integral part of Burundi's rich cultural heritage. Here are some traditions and customs that are worth embracing:

  • Coffee Ceremonies: Burundi is known for its traditional coffee ceremonies, which typically involve roasting the coffee beans in a pan and brewing them in a traditional pot. Coffee ceremonies serve as an opportunity to socialize, build relationships, and share in Burundi's coffee culture.
  • Café Culture: Burundi has a vibrant café culture, with cafes and coffee shops cropping up in urban areas. These establishments serve as a hub for socializing, networking, and enjoying coffee in a relaxed and comfortable environment.
  • Coffee Etiquette: It's essential to respect the local coffee customs and traditions to avoid offense. For instance, it's customary to pour a coffee for guests, indicating that hospitality is highly valued in Burundi.

Experiencing Authentic Cultural Experiences

To fully immerse yourself in Burundi's coffee culture, here are some recommendations for expat-friendly coffee shops, cafes, and cultural experiences:

  • Chasmoux: A popular café in Bujumbura, Chasmoux serves a dizzying array of coffee drinks and snacks in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
  • Urban Roasters: An artisanal coffee roastery and café, Urban Roasters offers a selection of freshly brewed coffees and pastries in a stylish and modern setting.
  • Burundi Coffee Festival: Held annually, the Burundi Coffee Festival is a celebration of the country's coffee culture, featuring coffee tastings, traditional coffee ceremonies, and cultural performances.


In conclusion, coffee culture is an integral part of Burundi's rich cultural heritage, and expats can take advantage of the following experiences to immerse themselves in this vibrant culture:

  • Explore coffee plantations and farms through cooperatives such as Caravan Coffee.
  • Experiment with different coffee styles, from espresso to French press.
  • Participate in coffee ceremonies and traditional coffee brewing methods.
  • Engage in café culture through expat-friendly coffee shops and cafes such as Chasmoux and Urban Roasters.
  • Attend the annual Burundi Coffee Festival to immerse yourself in the country's coffee culture.

Coffee provides an excellent opportunity to connect with local communities, appreciate authentic cultural experiences, and learn more about Burundi's rich cultural heritage.