Did you know that coffee is one of Burundi’s top exports? The 2017 Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) profile on Burundi lists coffee as its most profitable export, making up 23.3% of Burundi’s export value for that year. Burundi has been a cultivator of coffee since the 1930s when Belgians first introduced the Bourbon Arabica coffee plant to the country. Today, about 800,000 Burundi families grow coffee. With 90 percent of Burundians dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, coffee is a vital crop for economic stability both at the national and local level.
Burundi Friends International Founder Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian started BFI in 2007 out of a desire to help the people of her country – especially the women and youths – gain better access to education and achieve a higher level of gender equality through financial independence. Jeanine further expanded her pursuit of this goal by working directly with Burundian coffee growers through JNP Coffee, a company she founded in 2012 that specializes in high quality, award-winning specialty coffees grown by the people of Burundi. JNP Coffee is partnered with BFI and the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) and is well-known for sharing the premium coffee prices with farmers and giving women ownership rights in a male-dominated society.
Led by Jeanine’s dazzling vision, BFI has held steadfast in our goal of creating education and economic empowerment opportunities for the people of Burundi. BFI is proud to support Burundi’s farmers through our savings program, which has increased the access of women farmers in Burundi to information and resources and fostered a safe environment for Burundi women to improve action-planning and financial literacy through communally-organized investment. This, in turn, empowers women to be leaders in their communities and contributes to Burundi’s economy.
And on top of being good for Burundi’s economy, Burundian coffee is simply delicious! The Espresso & Coffee Guide describes Burundi single-origin coffee as exhibiting a sweet, clean flavor with a rich, creamy body and an aroma reminiscent of red currant. Burundi was even featured as the 2019 Portrait Country for the Specialty Coffee Expo, an annual event gathering coffee enthusiasts from around the globe.
If you’re in the San Diego area and are interested in trying some Burundi coffee for yourself, please contact BFI Administrative Assistant Melissa Flores at Melissa.F@bufri.org. Recommended donations are $20 for one 12-ounce bag.