In My Mug

Episode 550: Tanzania Burka/Selian Estate Natural

May 25, 2019
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The Burka Coffee Estate is located on the outskirts of Arusha national park, on the leeward side of Mt. Meru, just 80 km west of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. Situated close to the Kenyan border, this north-westerly region of Tanzania is famous for the coffee it produces.

Burka Coffee Estate was founded in 1899 by German settlers just outside the town of Arusha in Northern Tanzania. The neighbouring Selian Estate was established in 1910 and acquired by Burka in 1991. The first coffee trees were planted in 1918 and now number some 1.3 million mostly shade-grown varietals. 314 acres are reserved for forests and a further 250 acres to natural grasslands. There are around 200 permanent staff at Burka, a further 200 casual daily staff and up to 5,000 temporary staff involved in the picking and sorting at the height of harvest season. All permanent staff are provided with housing on the Estates with salary set at least 20% above minimum government requirements.

Staff have social security and Labour Union membership included in their contracts, and an Estate credit union also offer 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, from the Estate workers and the neighbouring communities. An onsite health centre with Estate nurse and dispensary is available for all staff, and the Estate has its own ambulance, along with shops, sport facilities and churches and a mosque. Regular inter-Estate and inter-camp football & netball matches occur, along with staff BBQ’s and other holiday celebrations. Workers are supplied with free firewood from stumped coffee trees, fruit & nut trees are grown around the staff villages.

The staff at Burka have a combined wealth of agronomic experience and over the course of many decades the estates have built a reputation for consistent production of fine arabica coffees characterised by mild acidity with flavours of lemon, chocolate & caramel.

Harvesting is carried out between the months of May to October through selective handpicking 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 handpicking before being bagged in GrainPro for export from the port & capital city of Dar Es Salaam.

In the cup this is a bigchewy coffee with loads of liquorice and a creamy finish. As it cools, look out for prunes and a hint of tobacco leaf.

  • 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


Liquorice, prune, tobacco leaf.

Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 7
Flavour: (1–8): 7
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 6.5
Overall: (1–8): 6.5
Correction: (+36): +36

Total: (max. 100): 88

Roast Information
Medium dark - through first crack, slow it down and drop just as you get to second crack.