Tanzania – Burka Estate

Tasting Notes: A full bodied well balanced cup, with black cherry juiciness and vanilla finish.

This Tanzania is one of our favourite coffees ever!! We have a soft spot for peaberry and these beans are really great quality right through the bag. So, brew up! and look out for a full bodied well balanced cup, with black cherry juiciness and vanilla finish.

“Black cherry”, is sometimes described as “brown sugar”, but to us, there is a stone fruitiness to this coffee which is more complex than just a sugar. Enjoy!

Beanify Coffee Cup Bag Cafetiere

Farm: Burka & Selian Estates, Arusha, Tanzania
Varietal(s): Mainly Red Bourbon (KP423, N39 sub varietals – other experimental lots are also grown) 
Processing: Fully washed coffee (Burka and Selian which both have their own wet mills on the site)
Altitude: 1340-1470 metres above sea level
Town: Just outside the town of Arusha, in Northern Tanzania
Region: Arusha (Arumeru district). On the lower slopes of Mount Meru (which rises to 4,565m) and not far from Mount Kilimanjaro
Country: Northern Tanzania
Total size of farm:
Burka covers 1,437 acres (of which 870 acres are coffee)
Selian covers 1,210 acres (of which 753 acres are coffee)
Total trees number approx. 1,370,000, mostly grown under shade trees (Gravelia robusta trees)
314 acres of the estates are given over to forests, with a further 250 acres of natural grasslands

Coffee has been grown on the Burka estate since1899 when it was founded by German settlers (a Mr Rahn). It is situated in the town of Arusha in Northern Tanzania, on the lower slopes of Mount Meru, and quite near to Mount Kilimanjaro. The neighbouring Selian estate was established in the 1910’s and was acquired by Burka in 1991.

Beanify - Tanzania FW PB Burka Estate

Coffee with Social Responsibility

The Estates have about 200 permanent staff, and 200 daily causal staff. In the peak of the harvest season this can increase to 5,000 staff involved in picking and processing.

All the 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 offer loans and advice for education, health and house construction.

Each estate even has its own nursery which educates over 100 children, and two primary schools that 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.

Coffee Processing

This is a fully washed coffee with the Burka and Selian estates both having their own wet mills on site.

Ripe cherries are delivered to the mill within 6 hours of picking, where the cherries are graded, sorted, de-pulped and fermented underwater for 24-36 hours (depending on temperature, humidity and other factors). Burka has a natural spring which supplies the wet mill, which is then recirculated before disposal into seepage pits, constructed wetlands and settlement ponds. The Selian mill draws its water from boreholes, which is also then recirculated in the same way. The waste cherry pulp is mixed with worms and produces an organic fertiliser, which is then re-used on the estates.

Parchment is then sorted and thoroughly rinsed in washing channels, and placed onto raised African drying tables. The drying period generally lasts for 5-7 days, until moisture level reaches 12% or lower, with regular turning, particularly in the first 48 hours to ensure even rates of drying.

Burka has its own cupping lab on site and samples of each day’s lot are cupped and assessed for quality.

Beanify - Tanzania FW PB Burka Estate - Farm workers


The climate is determined by the Inter Tropical Convergence winds which gives a bi-modal rainfall pattern. The long rains fall in March-May, with the short rains falling in November-December. Total rainfall is about 600mm per year, and irrigation (both paddle and drip methods) are used to top up water supply.


Dedicated conservationists sit on the Burka Estates board and ensure that the legacy established by the Rechsteiner family lives on. From the maintenance of Burka Forest and the restoration of Burka Hill, Burka Estate is faithful to its ecological roots.

One of the last and certainly the largest indigenous forests in Arusha, Burka Forest holds the natural spring which first gave Burka its name over 100 years ago. The preservation of these forests has led to a dramatic increase in the diversity and wealth of wildlife in this area. Everything from Dik Diks to the Madagascar Squacco Heron to Velvet monkeys, to the last baboon colony in the area enjoys the protection of Burka’s strict conservation policies, along with over 120 species of bird, are attracted by the local flora and natural grassland and forest areas. The Estate trains dedicated wildlife wardens to protect and conserve this wildlife.

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