Rimiro Natural Farmgate Initiative

The hill of Rimiro may be small, but it stands tall and its 10 residents have successfully rebuffed several attempts to claim Rimiro as a subhill of the nearby Mubira hill. Coffee from this plucky hill is sweet, juicy and clean with stone fruit and citrus.

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Coffee Grade:
NAT. Scr 15+
miro CWS
Red Bourbon
CWS – 1,658 metres above sea level; Farms – 1,500 to 1,800 metres above sea level
1,483 smallholder farmers working with Bugestal Coffee
Rimiro, Ruhororo
Farm Size:
200 to 250 trees on average
Bag Size:
60kg GrainPro
Harvest Months:
March - July

About This Coffee

Every bag purchased contributes to a Farmgate Initiative project. Learn more

The small hill of Rimiro has a courageous and welcoming population. With only 10 people living on the hill itself, Rimiro is the smallest hill in the commune of Ruhororo. The nearby hill of Mubira has tried multiple times to claim Rimiro as a sub-hill, but Rimiro’s residents have always maintained their hill as their own.  The hill may be small, but it stands tall.

In Kirundi, the word “Rimiro” translates to “where we cultivate” because the hill was used for agricultural purposes – primarily for producing colocases, the French word for taro, one of the few plants (along with rice) that can be grown in flooded plains. When coffee arrived in Burundi in early 20th century, it took the hill by storm, becoming the major crop on Rimiro hill and changing the lives of the people there for the better.

Today, more than 1,480 farmers from 27 nearby hills contribute their cherry to Rimiro washing station. The station has 3 soaking tanks, 12 fermentation tanks, 230 drying tables, 3 selection tables and 6 floating tanks, all of which allow the station to process up to 1,300 metric tons of cherry per season. The season typically runs from April to June.

The washing station participates in a number of farmer outreach and support projects including a livestock rearing project and a range of Farmer Hub projects centered on strengthening cooperatives and improving yields.


Most coffee trees in Burundi are Red Bourbon for reasons of quality. Because of the increasingly small size of coffee plantings, aging rootstock is a very big issue in Burundi. Many farmers have trees that are over 50 years old, but with small plots to farm, it is difficult to justify taking trees entirely out of production for the 3-4 years it will take new plantings to begin to yield. In order to encourage farmers to rennovate their plantings, Bugestal purchases seeds from the Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU), establishes nurseries and sells the seedlings to farmers at or below cost. Rimiro CWS produced 18,657 seedlings, bringing their total production from 2014-2018 to 46,717 seedlings.

Despite the ubiquity of coffee growing in Burundi, each smallholder producers a relatively small harvest. The average smallholder has approximately 250 trees, normally in their backyards. Each tree yields an average of 1.5 kilos of cherry so the average producer sells about 200-300 kilos of cherry annually.

Harvest & Post-Harvest

During the harvest season, all coffee is selectively hand-picked. Most families only have 200 to 250 trees, and harvesting is done almost entirely by the family.  Bugestal knows that even small distances can be time consuming and expensive to travel for smallholder farmers, and they know that receiving cherry immediately after harvest is crucial to quality.  Therefore, smallholders can bring their cherries either directly to a central washing station (CWS) or to one of the 10-15 collection sites situated throughout growing areas. Farmers are paid the same for their quality cherry regardless of where they bring their cherries. In this way, farmers are not disadvantaged due to their location, and Bugestal bears the cost of transport to CWS’s. 

 Quality assurance begins as soon as farmers deliver their cherry. All cherry is floated in small buckets as a first step to check its quality. Bugestal still purchases floaters (damaged, underripe, etc) but immediately separates the two qualities and only markets floaters as B-quality cherry. After floating, the higher quality cherry is sorted again by hand to remove all damaged, underripe and overripe cherries. 

After sorting, the beans are then transported directly to the drying tables where they will dry slowly for 3-4 weeks. Cherry is laid out in a single layer. Pickers go over the drying beans for damaged or defective beans that may have been missed in previous quality checks. The CWS is very strict about allowing only the highest quality cherry to complete the drying process. The beans are covered with tarps during periods of rain, the hottest part of the day and at night. On the table, the beans are dried to 11.5%.

Quality Control at Bugestal

Once dry, parchment is bagged and taken to the warehouse. Bugestal’s team of expert cuppers assess every lot (which is separated by station, day and quality) at the lab. This traceability of the station, day and quality is maintained throughout the entire process.

Before shipment, coffee is sent to Budeca, Burundi’s largest dry mill. The coffee is milled and then hand-sorted by a team of hand-pickers who look closely at every single bean to ensure zero defects. It takes a team of two hand-pickers a full day to look over a single bag. UV lighting is also used on the beans and any beans that glow — usually an indication of a defect — are removed.

The mill produces an average of 300 containers of 320 bags per year. Budeca is located in Burundi’s capital city, Gitega, where the population is around 30,000 people. Since there are approximately 3,000 people working at the mill - mostly as hand pickers - this means that Budeca employs nearly 10% of the total population in Gitega for at least half the year (during the milling season). The same is true in the provinces of Ngozi and Kayanza, where Bugestal is among the first employers in the region during the coffee harvest season. This has an incalculable impact on a country like Burundi - where unemployment rates are above 50% - especially in rural areas and among young people.

About Bugestal

Bugestal’s headquarters are located in Ngozi Province in the Northern part of Burundi, approximately 150km from Bujumbura, the largest city and previously the capital of Burundi. Bugestal operates nine washing stations in Ngozi and Muyinga provinces and works with more than 15,000 farmers. Coffee washing stations are all certified by Rainforest Alliance, 4C and C.A.F.E. Practices. Bugestal is part of the Sucafina Group, a family-owned coffee company promoting farm-to-roaster trade. Bugestal creates social impact at origin using farm-direct supply chains and works in collaboration with the Kahawatu Foundation to help farmers improve their livelihoods through the increase of coffee production. 

Coffee in Burundi

Burundi has long been overlooked in comparison to its neighboring East African specialty coffee producing powerhouses. However, Burundi season, for us, is one of the highlights of the annual coffee calendar. The country’s coffee is produced almost entirely by smallholder farmers, and much of this small-scale production is of exceptional quality. With its super sweet, clean and often floral coffees, Burundi, every year, is increasingly is putting itself on the specialty coffee map. 

Coffee is of paramount importance to families and the country at large. Considering this, improving and expanding coffee infrastructure is not just a way to improve incomes, it is a way to revolutionize the earning potential of an entire nation.

Building washing stations and expanding agricultural extension work can be great ways to improve coffee quality. Washing stations are pivotal in improving cup profile standards and the global reputation of Burundian coffee. 

Both state-owned and private actors drive Burundi’s coffee industry and play key roles as washing station management companies and exporters. State-owned companies are called Sogestals, short for “Sociétés de Gestions des Stations de Lavage” (Washing station management companies). Privately-owned companies can operate under a variety of different names.

Sucafina’s history in Burundi goes back to 2007 when Bucafe/Sucafina Burundi was established in Bujumbura. Through Bucafe, we work with several privately-owned washing station management companies and exporters. Our work bridges the entire supply chain, allowing us to be vertically integrated. Our supply chain is solid, reliable and transparent. Due to this, we are more efficient, able to supply better value and positioned to offer both producers and consumers of Burundian coffee a diversity of expertise.

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