Verve's Burundi Bwayi

What if a Yirg & a Kenya ...?

I made a pilgrimage of sorts this week to Santa Cruz, CA for an opportunity to soak in the aura of a roaster who’s coffee I have been enjoying locally for some time now. I’ll leave my experience at their café for another post – that’s what the Café tramp series of posts are for – but Verve coffee roasters’ beans have left me impressed.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area there are three cafés – each of which I have great respect for – that feature the coffees of Verve: Modern Coffee in Oakland, Sightglass in San Francisco and farm:table, also in San Francisco.

At each location the espresso blends, the single-origins are all just … well … well, hell, they’re just scrumptious. Flavor, flavor, flavor. Packed with it. Impressed.

They’ve all been interesting as well. “Interesting?”, you say? “What on earth are you talking about?”. I’m talking about individuality in flavor. Each Verve coffee I have had carries some unique flavor profile. Walnuts in one, sweet cane in something else, leather, cocoa and cardamom in another. So far, everything I’ve tasted from Verve has it.

But what about the Burundi ?..

Verve’s Burundi Bwayi – The short version …

if a Yirgacheffe and a Kenyan coffee had a love-child, well, this – Verve’s Burundi Bwayi – is what it would taste like.

… and a little bit longer one

On one hand, like a fine Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia, Verve’s Burundi Bwayi has aromas of delicate oolong tea and fragrant flowers. On the other, there are traces of Kenya’s concentrated, molasses-like sugars and dark berry-like sweetness.

Where the Burundi Bwayi distinguishes itself, where it makes itself unique – like any good child should – is in it’s creamy mouthfeel, the slightly sweeter fruit-punch-like berry flavors that also make themselves known and it’s distinctively – for an African coffee – woody, earthy palate (almost Sumatra-like) that carries over into the long, dry finish. Top it all off with a sharp but pleasant, sort-of tart apple-like acidity and you’ve got another unique entry in the Verve lineup.

A little more info … for the truly geeky

Of interest to me was the fact that this was a wet processed African coffee. Wet processed – as opposed to dry processed – coffees are known for their clean, un-muddied flavors and crisp acidity. The tart-apple-like acidity of the Bwayi was not of particular surprise then. What was surprising was the almost Sumatra-like woody, earthy component.

If you look at the photo above (click it to make it larger) you’ll notice three terms at the very bottom of the bag: Bourbon, Jackson, Mibitzi. I was already aware that Bourbon referred to a particular coffea arabica variety. Bourbon is a popular and highly productive variety of coffea arabica that was planted by the French on the island of Bourbon (now Réunion) around 1708, mutated and was then planted throughout Brazil in the late 1800s (Wikipedia). Jackson and Mibitzi I was not familiar with. A little research revealed that both Jackson and Mibitzi are both Bourbon cultivars native to Rwanda and Burundi. Now you know.

Just the facts

Who: Verve Coffee Roasters
What: Burundi Bwayi Wet Process
When: Roasted on January 7th, 2010
Where: Santa Cruz, CA
Why: I ♥ coffee
How: Chemex


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