Port wine, baking spices and molasses.
Washing Station: Long Miles Coffee Project
Variety: Heirloom Bourbon
Sourced Through: Upstream Coffee Imports
We have been roasting coffee from Long Miles since 2014 - when our head roaster Adam visited them in person in the beautiful hills of Burundi. We had heard amazing things about what they were accomplishing in terms of both quality and the prices paid to the growers - it was all true - and then some. They are truly re-inventing both what Burundian coffee can be and what a transparent, premium based and sustainable coffee chain means. From Adam, in regards to one of his career highlights:
"It’d be from my first origin trip, walking down a dirt road into the Long Miles Coffee Project Bukeye washing station in the hills of Kayanza, Burundi. It was the end of a long day and the air was thick with the aromas of cherry pulp, fermentation and coffee flowers. Unforgettable."
This coffee is grown and produced by farming families in the northern province of Ngozi, a stone’s throw away from the Rwandan border. The Nyamuswaga river runs through these neighbouring coffee hills, turning much of the surrounding landscape into a lush wetland. Bananas, maize, potatoes, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes and peas can be found growing alongside coffee, wrapping the hill in every imaginable shade of green. More than 1533 farming families from 20 nearby coffee hills deliver their cherries to this collection point. While women make up only 32% of the producers who contributed to this coffee, they are without question the thread that holds coffee farming communities together in Burundi. They work incredibly hard- hand tilling the soil, growing, harvesting, sorting and hauling multiple crops- not just coffee. They often do it with a baby on their back or a child at their hip.
A farmer might walk as far as 8km on narrow dirt footpaths carrying coffee cherries on their head to reach this collection point. There are a pre-selection area and floating station at this collection point where their coffee cherries are taken to be sorted and floated once again. Any underdeveloped, low- density or insect-damaged cherries will float to the top and are easily skimmed off. The cherries that rise to the top ('floats') are bought at a lower price, their quality immediately separated from the others then processed and sold as a lower grade coffee.
After each farmer’s cherries have been selected, weighed and their contribution recorded, this coffee is laid out in a single layer on traditional African raised beds to dry in its whole fruit. The cherries are then meticulously hand-sorted for colour, ripeness and insect damage by a team of pickers. The drying cherries are rotated continuously throughout the day and covered when the sun’s rays are too intense when it’s raining and overnight. Commitment to the perfect moisture level (10-11%) means coffee spends 20-30 days slow drying, depending on the weather conditions, soaking up as much of the hot East African sun as possible. Bonuses are paid to farming families in the form of a second payment at the end of the export year- before the next harvest season opens.
About Long Miles Coffee Project:
"We are a small American family living in Burundi, which is smack dab in the heart of east Africa. We are passionate about producing amazing coffee and caring for the well-being of the coffee farmers who grow it. We weren’t always coffee producers. First, we were a family with a dream.
Our dream was that one day we could facilitate direct and meaningful relationships between coffee roasters and coffee growers by producing great coffee and telling the story of the farmers who grow it. If we could do that, then the local farming community would thrive and the world would gain the gift of great Burundi coffee.
After some time sourcing coffee in Burundi, we realized that the only way we could see our dream come true was to build a washing station. That way, we could control the coffee quality and the price the farmers were given for their coffee. In our first season, with the help of our friends and devoted blog readers, we sold all the coffee before it even hit the drying tables. This overwhelming support allowed us to pay our farmers months before any other washing station in our area, and we quickly became established as a vital part of the community.
Living as a family in this part of Africa isn’t always easy, and sometimes we share the raw and honest truth about what that’s like on our blog. We rattle on about our Faith, raising boys in Africa and the expat life. We also share the stories of our coffee farmers, what it’s like at our washing stations and how we brew our morning coffee. So, if you want the real deal about life, hit that blog button.
If you are a roaster and would like to contact us about building a relationship with our family that works for both you and our farmers, please hit the contact button. If you are a lover of coffee or Africa or travel or adventure and you just want to connect with us, we’d love to hear from you too.
'Murakoze cane' (thank you very much),
The Carlson Family (Ben, Kristy, Myles, Neo, and Ariana)"