Please click on the countries below to learn more
Any grade mentioned with zephyr+ tagged denotes a closely cupped preparation with a little something extra in the cup, some lagniappe if you will. Many will enter, few will win.
Burundi is a difficult origin to get right. Upstream stewardship has improved significantly, but transport, storage and government auctions all conspire to obscure traceability and limit greater development. Louis Dreyfus maintains an origination office there in order to participate directly in the auctions. The recent opening of individual washing stations to independent marketing has provided an opportunity to source higher quality pieces and to prepare more consistent lots. Considering that coffee generates a weighty portion of Burundi’s GDP, highest by percentage of any coffee growing country, any added value helps.
Ethiopia deserves the homage, even after a few difficult crops and the contrived export exchange that has made origination a greater chore than need be. The bulk and diversity of quality offerings available from coffee’s birthplace is truly impressive. Ethiopia almost always occupies enthusiasts’ short lists of favorite specialty origins.
We have a local agent and cupper (Q Grader, check) in Addis to provide ongoing offers and samples. He also maintains close contact with the large cooperatives and provides choice selections and good prices.
Kenyan coffee is a labor of love (takes up all your time, costs you a bunch). Why else would you prep a few dozen samples, knowing that only a handful of lots will be worth an auction bid? Repeat this a few times over the course of a few weeks and you just might have a container’s worth to import. But it’s going to be good.
Fortunately for us, Louis Dreyfus operates a massive cupping lab in Nairobi, with representatives participating in every auction as well. Local expertise and supply proximity have made Zephyr AA and PB preps big winners, and the mixed container microlots aren’t too bad either. Future developments are tending towards direct farmer support and sustainable certificates, which has been a long time coming.
Zephyr’s Rwandan origination is slow and steady. The origin’s specialty movement has come a long way, but that critical mass of great coffee is still over the next hill. Although blessed with a unique and often exceptional cup profile (virtues of heirloom varietals, good altitude and a favorable climate), Rwandan coffees seem easily dismissed by those living in fear of … the potato cup. Knowing your suppliers well and clocking hours in the cupping lab are necessary for building successful trade flows. We’re big fans of Rwandan coffee, having had success with a cadre of very capable partners that care about quality and local LD agents who closely monitor what we source.
Peaberries, anyone? There’s actually far more to Tanzanian specialty coffee than PBs, and even they need a proper upbringing if they’re to reach their potential. ABs and AAs, sourced mainly via auction in Moshi but also from estates and cooperatives, can be special as well, highlighting when good the vibrant East African flavor profile most often associated with Tanzania’s neighbor to the north.
Speaking of Kenya, our local Tanzanian team also assists us with producer relationship building, quality control, auction participation and logistics and export, the importance of which cannot be underestimated in Tanzania. No matter what the pedigree or the processing, coffee sitting roadside or, worse, in Dar Es Salaam for too long will get a natural steaming.