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In Burundi, the health of the soil has been at the forefront of these issues for some years. With the fluctuation in rainfall causing massive amounts of erosion, as well as the lack of accessibility to proper fertilization, it has been a challenge to maintain proper soil for growing and nurturing healthy fruit-bearing coffee trees.

Landscape view of Gitwe Hill, Burundi

Long Miles Coffee Project is heavily involved in the coffee production of Burundi. They formed out of a desire to support and assist in the development of coffee production in the country. Ben and Kristy Carlson, founders of Long Miles Coffee Project, have established relationships with coffee growing communities, invested in local farmers' productions, and have built multiple washing stations to support coffee producers' abilities to properly process their coffee. They work towards elevating the quality of coffee in Burundi while ensuring producers are paid the premiums they deserve.

With Long Miles’ vision to “see meaningful and lasting change in the lives of Burundian coffee farmers and the coffee they produce,” the Long Miles team organized a group of local Burundian’s dubbed “The Long Miles Coffee Scouts.” The Scouts focus on developing initiatives that find solutions to issues impacting the local coffee growing community. From soil health to fending off antestia bugs, the Scout’s work plays a crucial role in elevating the livelihoods of the community — as well as the quality of coffee.

One of the washing stations Long Miles’ built is the Heza Washing Station. It is situated at 2,000 MASL and is in close proximity to seven coffee growing hills. Each one of these hills has a unique terroir, or specific environment, that distinguishes the coffee grown on each hill. When producers from this region bring their coffee to Heza to be processed, the washing station team ensures that the hill separations remain separated, highlighting the terroir of each hill.

Upon arrival at the washing station, the coffee cherries are hand-sorted for ripeness ahead of going through a double-fermentation process. After being rinsed with local spring water, the coffee is evenly dried on covered drying beds. Throughout each stage, the coffee is monitored and evaluated for quality. The entirety of this process takes around 3-4 weeks.

Man picking coffee cherries off tree

Among the multiple hills and coffees brought to Heza Washing Station, the coffee grown on the hill named Gitwe caught our attention. Our relationship with Gitwe began in 2018 when Long Miles introduced us to the beautiful coffee grown around their washing station. The lots grown atop Gitwe hill are vibrant and floral, reminiscent of bright sunny days of summer. This coffee has shown up on our menu over the past few years as it embodies dedication to relationship, innovation, and the constant pursuit of excellence that is happening in Burundi.

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