The Burka Coffee Estate is located on the outskirts of Arusha national park. It's on the leeward side of Mount Meru, which is just 80 kilometres west of Mount Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak.
Selian was established in 1910 and was acquired by Burka in 1991 (thus the Burka/Selian in the coffee's name). The owners of the combined estate can now boast of growing coffee since 1899, which is when Burka was planted – rather impressive, don't you think?! The Selian estate covers 1,210 acres, of which 753 acres produce coffee.
The Burka and Selian estates have about 200 permanent staff as well as 200 daily causal staff; however, in the peak of the harvest season, there can be up to 5,000 staff involved in picking and processing. All permanent staff are provided with housing on the estates (in four different camps), and the minimum salary is set at 20% above the government minimum requirement. Staff have social security and labour union membership included in their contracts, and an estate credit union also offers loans and advice for education, health, and house construction.
Each estate has its own nursery which educates over 100 children, and two primary schools also cater for over 600 children, who come from the estate workers' families and the neighbouring communities. An on-site health centre with estate nurse and dispensary is available to meet the needs of all staff, and the estate has its own ambulance. It also has shops, sport facilities, churches, and a mosque.
Regular inter-estate and inter-camp football and netball matches occur, along with staff BBQs and other holiday celebrations. Workers are supplied with free firewood from stumped coffee trees, and fruit and nut trees are grown around the staff villages.
The harvest is carried out between the months of May to October through selective hand-picking of red ripe cherries, followed by further hand-sorting to remove any over- or under-ripe cherries. Cherries are then dried slowly on raised African beds for 12–14 days. The cherries are carefully maintained through consistent turning to ensure even drying and avoid over-fermentation. They are covered at night to protect them from excess rain and moisture.
Once the cherries have dried to the optimum moisture content, they are sent to Moshi for hulling, grading by bean size, and careful hand-picking. Finally, the coffee is bagged in GrainPro for export from the port and capital city of Dar Es Salaam.
In the cup this is a totally unique coffee. Expect bruised strawberries covered in rich dark chocolate and sprinkled in white sugar, with a boozy cherry aftertaste.
- Country: Tanzania
- Region: Arusha
- District: Arumeru
- Estate: Burka/Selian
- Estate size: 343 hectares
- Varietals: Kent, N39, Blue Mountain and Catimor
- Processing method: Natural
- Drying method: Raised African beds
- Drying time: 12–14 days
- Altitude: 1,350 m.a.s.l.
- Soil: Young alluvial, sandy to clay loam
- Average annual rainfall: 750 mm