Shimu, Burundi

What makes a good cup of coffee?

There are endless factors that affect the way our coffee tastes. The same coffee can taste amazing when you drink it wearing your favourite dress while enjoying the warm sun, and simply awful when you are having a shitty day and you just got yelled at by your boss.

I competed in this year Brewers Cup that was held at the Helsinki Coffee Festival couple weeks ago. In my open service routine, I focused on three factors that can make my coffee either the highlight of the day or the thing that ruins it completely: the science, the feeling and the story.

For me, the most interesting of those three is the feeling. That is also one of the reasons why I chose to use Burundi Shimu as my competition coffee. When we were blind cupping different coffees, I noticed that I was coming back to this one coffee, sip after sip. It had something familiar, something that instantly made me feel good. It was Shimu and it tasted like plums.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of plums, is Donald Duck magazine and the Beagle Boys. When I was growing up, reading Donald Duck was one of my favourite thing to do after school. One member of the Beagle Boys were crazy about plums and a few of their robberies went south because of this uncontrollable desire for plums. This strong memory made me feel warm, happy and slightly amused, and I ended choosing Shimu in every single blind cupping we did.

Shimu is owned by a single farmer, Gabriel Congera. This is rare in Burundi where coffee farms are usually run by cooperatives. The reason why this coffee tastes so amazing is the precise and loving work that they do at the Mpanga washing station. The coffee is fully washed, it’s fermented for 13 hours before drying. This simple and clean processing makes this coffee taste really bright and clean.

At the washing station, they also separate all the different lots that grow on the hills of Kayanza region, so that you and I can enjoy the full variety of beautiful, unique coffees that grow in the area.

The reason why this coffee tastes so amazing is the precise and loving work that they do at the Mpanga washing station.

This coffee is really complex, yet easy to drink. When you take the first sip, you will taste juicy plum and strong black tea notes. Then the sweet, round sugar cane notes start to appear. The aftertaste is clean and a bit dry, making this coffee balanced and refreshing.

My recommendation for brew method is Hario V60. I prefer to use the smaller one, I feel can control the pour better and achieve more even extractions. In my routine, I used 12 grams of coffee and 200 grams of 92 c water. I pour the water in three stages (50g + 50g + 100g). This is the same pouring technique we use in the café, it’s simple, easy and very consistent.

My tips for achieving the full Shimu experience: get cozy, take your Donald Duck mag out. Brew Shimu with your favorite brew method and drink it from the cup that makes you happy, even if it’s the ugly and awkward one. Enjoy.