In Issue #6 of the Light & Adventurous pack, we’ve featured three coffees from Africa, however, each country has its own unique history and distinct taste profile. Let’s dive into these three origins: Ethiopia, Kenya, and Burundi.


Considered to be the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia remains the largest exporter of coffee in Africa. Its profile is beloved for being both distinct and diverse. The country’s two most common processing methods are washed and natural, and each imparts its unique flavours on the cup. “Natural Ethiopians have jammy fruit flavours while washed coffees are cleaner and crisp. With a washed, you are looking for crisp fruit notes, brightness and acidity. It’s day and night with washed and naturals,” Ulysse Gélinas-Roy, the Head Roaster at Escape Coffee Roasters, explained.


Kenya first received beans from British missionaries in 1893, and in 1933, the Coffee Act was passed. This was when the government implemented auctions as a means of selling Kenyan coffee, a system that is still primarily in use today. The majority of specialty coffee from Kenya uses SL varietals (most commonly SL 28 and SL 34). These were developed by Scott Laboratories, a Kenyan research center, in 1930. The varietals’ composition, combined with high altitudes and rich volcanic soil, creates a distinctive profile with a higher amount of phosphoric acid, bringing a sparkling acidity to the profile.

“The classic Kenyan profile has a long sweet finish and bright, juicy acidity,” Ethan Murphy, the Roaster at Cape Coffee, explained. We can often find notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, black tea, and sometimes even tomato!


Burundi’s history with coffee is short and more volatile. Coffee trees are not a native plant to the region and were only introduced in the 1930s by Belgian colonies.

Due to political instability in the region for decades due to colonialism, war and the struggles of neighbouring countries, production struggled greatly and was almost nonexistent for most of the latter half of the 20th century. In recent years, Burundi has taken many cues from neighbouring Rwanda after witnessing the country’s rebuild through an increased focus on higher-quality coffee through the 2000s.

“I find the best Burundi coffees have a very nice citrus acidity and a red fruit component that can be a refined and clear fresh raspberry note. Some of the best iterations have an herbal character that is not at all vegetal but more hops-like and floral. This adds a very nice depth and complexity while remaining clean,” David Stallings, Head of Roaster Relations at Long Miles Coffee Project, explained.

May 31, 2023 — Zara Snitman

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