The Roastery & Cafe
CO-OP: BUKEYE WASHING STATION
LOCATION: MUSUMBA, KAYANZA, BURUNDI
ALTITUDE: 1760 MASL
Tasting Notes: Candied Orange, Root Beer, Milk Chocolate
Long Miles Coffee Project is the result of the work of Ben and Kristy Carlson. They moved to Burundi in 2011 with the hope of improving farming conditions and practices while providing a way for roasters around the world to source and roast delicious coffees from Burundi. Now, 12 years later, they’ve established a remarkable operation in this east African country. In their first coffee season, they worked with 50 farmers to source and create micro-lots. Now, they work with more than 5,500 farmers on twelve unique hills. Long Miles centers their efforts around two main goals -
First, the farmers who grow coffee on the twelve hills Long Miles works with get year round agricultural assistance through one of their twenty-six Long Miles Coffee Scouts who are all well trained junior agronomists. Their Coffee Scouts, most of whom originated from the hills they work on, help farmers to understand and implement better farming practices, which increases both the quality and the yield of the coffee cherries. They also have their own coffee farms within these communities, these farms serve as “model farms” that show farmers first hand the improved yields they can expect from proper farm care and from planting indigenous shade trees.
Secondly, they do the simplest and best thing they can do for coffee farmers in Burundi - at their washing stations they pay higher prices for coffee cherries as well as annual premiums.
This washed lot of 100% bourbon comes from Musumba Hill. Almost every inch of Musumba is covered in the silvery-grey of eucalyptus trees. Smoke billows up from the valley below where brick makers are hard at work. Beans and sweet potatoes are prized crops after coffee, as it is grown in large quantities and helps to sustain households’ income throughout the year. Cassava, potato, maize, peas, bananas, onions and tea are also grown by farming families in the hill’s rich soils. The canopies of banana trees that surround farmers’ fields create a cool climate for coffee to grow in. The 8km journey from Musumba to Bukeye Washing Station is long and tiring. Farmers have to climb up steep hills and back down narrow dirt paths to reach Bukeye. They walk through some of the most beautiful scenery, but have no time to stop and appreciate it, concentrating on the heavy load of cherries resting on their heads.
They pass two other washing stations nestled in Musumba’s rolling hills, choosing to travel the distance to Bukeye because with Long Miles they say they have found hope. Unlike most other regions in Burundi, this hill was left almost untouched by war. It was a peaceful island in the midst of cyclical violence and destruction. Despite this, Musumba has been Long Miles’ greatest challenge, with many old coffee trees and run-down farms. Yet, it’s a hill they won’t give up on because it holds so much potential.