We’ve been proud to partner with Long Miles Coffee Project for the past couple of years to bring you some truly remarkable coffees from Burundi. The Carlson family has been working tirelessly to re-build Burundi’s war-torn landscape into a thriving, coffee-producing region. They have built two washing stations over the past five years and have invested in the local communities through education, artisans curation of crops, employment of hundreds of people, innovation, and public works projects.
One huge benefit we get from partnering with the Carlson family, besides helping to fund change in their communities, is gaining detailed background information on the coffee we source from them. The current lot we just brought in comes from Kinyovu, a neighboring hill of Gitwe, and it’s without a doubt the best coffee we’ve brought in from them yet. On the nose, it’s floral with a scent reminiscent of jam making in my mother’s kitchen. In the cup you can find white peach, stewed fruit, grape-like acidity and a smooth, syrupy mouthfeel.
This lot is a Bourbon that was grown along the edges of the Kibira forest which makes up the border between Burundi and Rwanda. We were going to try and paraphrase the information we got about this area, but couldn’t put it quite as eloquently as Long Miles. The following is perhaps the most detailed look into the background of your coffee you’ve ever seen!
"Gitwe stretches from Heza washing station all the way to the main road that runs through the northern province of Kayanza. At almost every hour the hill bustles with the activity of village life. People run alongside cars with baskets full to the brim with onions and potatoes to sell. Carpenters craft planks of wood into tables in the small town’s center. Fig trees stand tall on either side of the hill, casting a welcoming shade from the hot East African sun. An assortment of onions, sweet potato, maize, banana, cassava, beans, and cabbage are grown alongside coffee in the hill’s rich soils.
Gitwe carries deep scars from its violent past. Yet, there is an unrivaled unity amongst the people here. They have worked hard to develop as a community, coming together to build schools for their children and homes for their neighbors. With the help of Anicet and Patrice, the two coffee scouts dedicated to working on the hill, they are learning best farming practices. Before the scouts, farmers weren’t aware of the harm antestia bugs – the colorful critter linked to the potato defect - could cause to their coffee. There was no one to show them how to prune their trees or explain why it was important. They didn’t know how to mulch or fertilize their farms. The scouts’ hard work has renewed farmers’ interest in growing coffee. Gitwe farmers are now pioneering a way of irrigating their coffee by building water channels alongside their farms. These channels collect rainwater, which slowly irrigates their coffee trees and other crops.
CHALLENGES: Gitwe struggles to get access to clean drinking water and people often get sick from bacteria found in the water. There are many farming families spread over the hill, each owning a small piece of land. With little room for expansion, it is hard for farmers to maximize their production of coffee and other subsistence crops. The changing climate means that rains don’t fall when they are expected to. When the rain does fall, the daily downpours can wash the good soils into the valley below. The scouts are working with farmers to plant green manures to help return nutrients to the hill’s soils.
FUTURE: Coffee is a life-line for most of the people on this hill. Producing coffee helps the farmers to pay for school fees, clothing, livestock and home repairs. Farmers hope to develop their coffee crops to ensure a good future for their children and the community."
Note: All the great photos in this blog post have been graciously provided by Long Miles Coffee Project