Avocado Toast from Burundi Star Coffee in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

I’ll get straight to the point: A few Fridays ago, I had the most satisfying serving of avocado toast of my entire life. This monumental culinary event took place at Burundi Star Coffee on St. John Street in Portland.

Since purchasing a second-hand scooter a few months ago, I’m always on the hunt for spots I can easily scoot to for a quick bite. When I learned about Burundi Star Coffee, I put on my nifty new helmet and off I sped over the Casco Bay Bridge to Portland.

Along with the toast, I also enjoyed a cold brew that was so good, I zipped back there the very next day for another one, thankful I had attached a handy cup holder to my Metropolitan.

During that initial visit, I also tried the small, spicy meat triangle called a sambousa ($2.50). It was a three-bite affair of crunchy, flavorful excellence made with ground meat and spices. Next time I’m there, I’m going to give something called the pain viande a try. It has the same filling as the sambousa, but is made with bread that takes several hours to cook. Burundi Star Coffee also offers a savory banana soup that wasn’t quite ready when I was there but is something I might have to try down the road because it’s such an unusual concept, at least to my taste buds.

Now permit me to wax poetic for a bit about the avocado toast ($8). First off, it was served on at least 1-inch thick bread from Standard Baking. The eye-poppingly liberal amount of smashed avocado was adorned with a hint of lemon juice along with red onion, red pepper flakes and cilantro. On two occasions, while I sat at my table feasting,  I was asked if I wanted a box to take some of it home with me. I don’t think these folks knew who they were dealing with. After all, in all the years of writing these reviews, have I ever not eaten the whole thing? Nope!

Paired with an upper-level delicious cold brew made with beans from Burundi, this lunch was monumental.

Burundi Star Coffee owners Jocelyne Kamikazi and Andre Nzeyimana outside their Portland cafe. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Burundi Star Coffee is owned and operated by the couple Andre Nzeyimana and Jocelyne Kamikazi. They came to the U.S. from Burundi in 2006, and after a brief stint in New Hampshire have called Maine home since then.

They opened the cafe in March, then quickly had to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, which they told me was a challenge, to say the very least. But since they reopened in early June, business has been picking up. Although it’s not quite where they need it to be, they’re feeling cautiously optimistic.

I asked them what makes coffee from Burundi taste so good. They said it’s because the country is too small to make many things, so it’s able to focus on producing exceptionally good coffee. All I know is that it was love at first sip, and when it came to that avocado toast, love at first bite. I also feel extra snazzy in the Burundi Star face mask ($10) that I bought on my way out.

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