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Female-owned specialty coffee
03:19 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

More than half of Burundi's population makes a living from coffee beans

Only 5% of Burundi's beans are processed in the country

Farmers need new skills to add value to their coffee, says expert

CNN  — 

In the hills of Burundi, farmers tend their coffee crop. Their livelihoods depend on a good harvest.

Coffee in the small central African nation is more than just a hot drink; it’s a valuable commodity that props up Burundi’s agrarian-based economy.

The world of Starbucks baristas and double macchiatos are an alien concept to coffee growers in one of Africa’s poorest nations, where 55% of the population earns their livelihood from Arabica beans.

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Chantal Ka-Hor-Rury, a coffee trader and head of a collective that helps farmers bring their crop to market, is committed to helping Burundi expand its coffee industry.

“We chose to cultivate coffee because in our country, it’s a crop that gives a lot of money,” she said.

Coffee accounts for 80% of Burundi’s export revenues but with market prices slipping to their lowest level since 2009, according to the International Coffee Organization’s index, profit margins are thin.

“The market is very low but it does not discourage us,” Ka-Hor-Rury said, “because when you have a lot to sell you always make a lot of money.”