Likely the oldest variety in Rwanda and still an important variety for smallholder coffee growers in Rwanda and Burundi.
The origin of Mibirizi is poorly documented. According to the Belgian coffee historian Edmund Leplae, it was introduced from Guatemala by the German administration in Rwanda in the 1910s. It was called “Guatemala” and would most likely have Typica lineage, because Guatemala was planted 100% in Typica at that time. Guatemala was distributed by the German colonial administration to Rwandan Catholic missions in the 1920s, including Mibirizi in western Rwanda. This population in Mibirizi was well maintained and was the source for the introduction of Mibirizi seeds to the germplasm collection at Mulungu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is very likely that Mibirizi plants were then mixed with French Mission plants (which belong to the Bourbon lineage; see SL34 for more) introduced from Kenya. Some breeding was initiated in the Mibirizi population and several lines were compared at the Rubona Coffee Research Station (near Huye, Rwanda) during the 1950s. However, it is not clear if any specific Mibirizi lines were released for farmers, or if the Mibirizi growing today originated from pre-existing Mibirizi plantations. Recent genetic tests have confirmed that Mibirizi is related to the Typica genetic group.