Burundi | Mikuba Lot #13
Burundi | Mikuba Lot #13
Farm/Mill: Heza Washing Station
Producers: Smallholder farmers with the Long Miles Coffee Project
Altitude: 1850 - 2060m
Burundi is a small, landlocked country in central Africa. Despite it’s small size and rocky history, the hills that crisscross the country hold so much potential with their fertile soils and unique micro-climates. Working in the coffee industry in Burundi can be a challenge - washing stations can be few and far between, exporting coffee requires crossing numerous legal hurdles, and travelling around the country, especially to the remote areas that coffee is grown in, can be taxing. But for one family in particular, the Carlson family, this was no problem. The coffee growing potential, wonderful culture and serene landscapes were more than enough to convince them to pack up their family, move to this small country, and work towards increasing coffee quality and making sure that farmers were getting paid fairly for their hard work. And with that passion, they started the Long Miles Coffee Project.
We’ve been huge fans of the Long Miles Coffee Project in Burundi for a long time now, and we’re super excited to finally be able to offer their coffee. The Long Miles Coffee Project is an initiative that was started by Ben and Kristy Carlson in 2012, with the intent of bringing about direct and meaningful relationships between coffee roasters and coffee growers. After moving to Burundi, the Carlson’s quickly realised that they couldn’t offer fair prices to the farmers they work with, nor ensure the quality of the coffee they sold to roasters, without building a washing station of their own. And so, in 2013, they set about building a single washing station to make that dream a reality. By the time the washing station was built, and the first harvest was taking place, they had sold all of the coffee to roasters before it even hit the drying table. Since 2013, the project has come a long way, and now they operate washing stations throughout the country, and are regarded as some of the most innovative, inspirational coffee producers in the world. They have even placed coffees in the top 10 of the Burundi Cup of Excellence competition several times.
In the time that the project started, we have seen coffee quality from the farmers that they work with increase exponentially, and this coffee from the Heza washing station is testament to that. In English “Heza” means beautiful place, and it’s safe to say that the washing station was pretty aptly named. Getting to the Heza washing station can be difficult, requiring switchbacking up steep mountainsides and crossing hand-made log bridges. But the reward for the journey is more than worth it. With panoramic views of the countryside around them, and they seemingly never-ending East African sky, it truly lives up to it’s name. More than serene views however, the hills around the washing station provide near perfect conditions for growing speciality coffee. High altitudes and a moderate, but moist climate truly bring out the best in the coffees that are grown in the area. This all leads to unique and intense flavors that are an excellent expression of where these coffee were grown. In particular, be on the lookout for fresh flavors of cucumber and honeydew, the brightness of raspberries, and the slightly spicy complexity and sweetness of apple cider.