Coffee Washing Station Rubagabaga wins Burundi Cup of Excellence

The Burundi Cup of Excellence (COE) international jury has awarded seven Presidential Awards to coffees scoring 90 points, the most scored in COE history.

The Presidential-awarded lots, will be sold as two split lots during the auction on 2 October. 

Greenco-owned Coffee Washing Station Rubagabaga won first place with a score of 91.43 for a coffee from the Kayanza region. Coffee Washing Station Munkaze Coffee, owned by Buja Coffee, placed second with 91.14 points.  

Washing stations from all over Burundi submitted 331 coffee samples, which narrowed down to 29 coffees from five different provinces for the judging on 2 August in Bujumbura. 

The judging panel represented markets from United States, South Korea, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Norway, Russia, Australia and Burundi.  

“The coffees of Burundi remain often undiscovered gems for many coffee companies. Very high altitudes, cool climates and exclusively bourbon cultivars are constants across the country and mean that this year’s selection of winning coffees is a true exploration of the impact of terroir and washed processing on cup profile,” says Alliance for Coffee Excellence (ACE) Head Judge John Thompson.

“The coffees are extremely clean, elegant and all have high levels of sweetness from position one to 29. Refined and complex acidity works in harmony a diverse range of aromatic cup profiles, offering stone fruits, florals and berry fruits across the coffees. This is a chance to experience Burundian coffee at its best and challenge your preconceptions.” 

Burundi coffee is prone to the potato taste defect or PTD, which has been commonly found as a natural occurrence in certain East and Central African Great Lakes coffees. The exact cause of the defect is unknown.

The COE competition eliminates any coffees that present potato defect in cup during any stage of the competition. 

Revelator Coffee’s Emma Chevalier from the US says while Burundi coffees are stunning, the possibility of potato defect exists. 

“Even the most extraordinary coffees may have some problems,” she says. “At our company, we communicate to our staff that we are committed to Burundi coffee, and a potato-y cup may occur here and there. We are a bit more forgiving on the chance of a rare potato in the cup since the exact cause of the defect remains somewhat of a mystery.’

Emma adds that producers, washing stations, and mills with very high standards and practices still experience the misfortune of the potato defect. Even a single Burundi lot can be comprised of cherry, impacting hundreds of small-scale farmers. 

“We know that a rare or slight potato in the cup may slip in with even some of the best and brightest coffees, and although less than ideal, it is such a shame to miss out on the gems. We don’t really purchase coffees with known potato problems, we are just a little more flexible when a rare one pops up,” Emma says.

The ACE is a non-profit global membership organisation dedicated to advancing excellence in coffee. 

For more information and to register for the Cup of Excellence or national winning samples and their auctions, log on to

For the full list of Burundi competition winners, visit 

Upcoming 2018 COE auctions include: Rwanda on 20 September and Burundi on 2 October.

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