Apricot nectar, black tea and baking spices.
Washing Station: Bukeye
Organisation: Long Miles Coffee Project
Elevation: 1,700 - 2,100m above sea level
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."
About this lot:
Gaharo holds a special place in the heart of Long Miles Coffee.
This is not just one of the hills in their story, it is the hill where the journey began. The first washing station built by Long Miles rests at the feet of Gaharo hill, on a piece of land that seemed to be long forgotten by everyone else. Every inch of it was cleared by Gaharo farmers and bricks were made from clay found in the valley below. The same farmers who helped to build Bukeye from scratch now deliver their cherries to it. To the Long Miles family, Gaharo farmers have become their neighbors and co-workers. They have grown, worked and developed as a community “twese hamwe”; together. What sets this hill apart from others in the region is the number of blacksmiths hand-crafting metal into knives and farming tools.
About the processing:
Bukeye Washing Station has its own borehole water source and a granite
filtered well. During the fully washed process freshly harvested cherries are delivered by coffee farmers to the Long Miles Coffee Washing Station, then floated and hand-sorted for ripeness upon arrival. The cherries are pulped and undergo a single fermentation process. Parchment spends around twelve hours dry fermenting. The parchment is sometimes ‘footed’ after fermentation. A team will agitate and dance on the slippery coffee parchment by foot, helping to loosen any remaining mucilage clinging to it. It is then rinsed in fresh water, graded by density and left to soak for another four to six hours in the final rinse tank. The parchment is carried to covered drying tables where it spends between six and forty-eight hours pre-drying. During this time, it is hand-picked for under-ripeness, over-ripeness, insect damage and visual defects. It is then moved to traditional African raised tables where it spends between sixteen to twenty days slow drying (depending on the weather) until it reaches the desired 10.5% moisture level.
About the Coffee Scouts:
Emery, Suavis and Peter are three Coffee Scouts working alongside coffee farming families on Gaharo hill. Together, they have been empowering farmers with sustainable farming practices, helping them to plant shade trees and green manures, mulch their land and seasonally prune their coffee trees. During coffee harvest, the Coffee Scouts stand side by side with farmers, guiding them through the cherry picking process. They have also taught farmers how to spot and catch antestia bugs,the colorful bugs thought to be linked to the potato taste defect, that can be found in the coffee trees.
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)
Located in the Great Rift Valley on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, Burundi is a small landlocked nation bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After being colonized first by the Germans and then by the Belgians, Burundi gained independence in 1962 when it became a monarchy. Violence followed, and then Burundi became a single party state in 1966. A bloody history of ethnic cleansing in the 1970’s and then again in the 1990’s have left Burundi’s economy little time to thrive, making its people some of the poorest in the world. Burundi remains a predominatly agrarian society, with just 13.4% of it’s population dwelling in cities.
Coffee and tea are Burundi’s top exports, accounting for 90% of its foreign trade. Approximately 80% of Burundians live below the poverty line. In 2018’s World Happiness Report, Burundians were rated as the least happy population on earth.
Burundi coffee is the Cinderella of the coffee world; often subject to deep misfortunes despite deserving better. Coffee came to Burundi under colonial rule through the Belgains after WWI in the 1920’s. The Belgians began to force every farmer to cultivate at least fifty coffee trees in 1933. Many of the trees farmed in Burundi today are original to the this era of forced farming. After colonial rule ended in 1962, coffee production was privatized, but rarely was anything besisdes commodity coffee produced. Since then, the sector went back under governemnt control only to re-emerge into the private sector in 1991. For the last sixty years Burundi’s rich and unique coffees have often been lost in a sea of instant and grocery store blends. But now, grown and crafted with care, Burundi coffee is emerging to find its place in the specialty limelight.
From far off, the Burundian countryside is a vast expanse of green carpeted rolling hills. Each hill is a distinct geopolitical unit with its own farming tapestry; a patchwork of banana trees, cassava coffee, tea and corn. There are no typical looking coffee estates in Burundi, instead every hill is home to between sixty and 140 smallholding coffee farming families. For most coffee farmers in Burundi, coffee is their family’s only cash crop. The average farmer who works with us has 115 coffee trees. Each coffee producing hill in Burundi has an individual micro-climate, soil structure and altitude. LMCP trace micro-lots by tracking every farming family on every hill, and documenting each day that they deliver. Every farmer has a story- and they do their best to capture not only data about coffee production, but family and home life as well.
Producing coffee in this part of Africa isn’t always easy. Harvest season often means navigating challenges like countrywide fuel shortages, water shortages, political insabilities, constantly changing government regulations or export delays. Despite all of these challenges, we’ve found Burundi coffees to be well worth the effort, and we are hopeful that you will too.
Photos taken by LMCP <3