I want to share with you a little about a really exciting experience we had recently here at Victrola. One of our primary tasks here in the roastery is to source coffees. Typically, after choosing a coffee, we rely on the farmer or an importer to actually import the coffee. Recently, however, we imported a coffee ourselves for the very first time, the Burundi Lot 19 Maridadi.
This coffee was grown in the Kayanza Province by over 300 families farming small parcels of land surrounding the Mpanga washing station. Jean Clément Birabereye runs SEGEC, and started operations at the washing station in Mpanga in 2008.
Victrola became aware of this beautiful coffee thanks to Jean Clément’s cousin; Jeanine Niyonzima-Aroian, who brought us some samples. We cupped multiple lots and decided on Lot 19. The easy part was determining that we had to have a coffee from Mpanga on our menu; the challenge was how to get the coffee from Burundi to Seattle.
Working out the logistics of importing coffee was a completely new experience for us. We first had to determine whether to transport the coffee to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya or the Port of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and next, how would we get the coffee on the water to begin its nearly two month journey to Seattle by ship. Working closely with SEGEC and Jeanine, we began to formulate a plan. In the course of determining the best route for transporting the coffee, we all decided that the most important consideration was getting the coffee here to Seattle as quickly as possible. This was a more expensive option, but we all agreed that it was worth the extra cost to both Victrola and SEGEC to bring in the coffee as quickly as possible. This was a challenging and rewarding process for us to go through. It was such a wonderful experience to work in direct partnership with the producer of the coffee to determine pricing and terms of selling and transporting the coffee. We also could not have made this happen without the creativity and tireless efforts of Jeanine, who acted as the bridge between SEGEC and Victrola. For us, this coffee represents the type of collaboration and transparency we strive for in sourcing coffee and we are so pleased to be able to share this wonderful coffee from Burundi with you all.