Long Miles Coffee Project
Bukeye Washing Station
Gaharo | Ninga | Munyinya | Rugoma
Nestled deep within the heart of the small coffee producing country of Burundi, on the border of Kayanza Province, is the village of Bukeye. Bukeye bustles with all the activity of village life and that activity spills to the very edge of the road. People sewing garments on foot pedal machines, selling beans from huge sacks, hanging freshly butchered goats for the noon meal and repairing bicycles with just one tool. Just beyond this village, down a tree lined dirt road, lies the backbone of Long Miles Coffee Project; the Bukeye washing station.
Bukeye is the first washing station built by Ben and Kristy Carlson, an American family who see the potential of Burundi coffee and its farmers.
Owner(s): Ben and Kristy Carlson of Long Miles Coffee Project
Date of construction: January 2013
Date of opening: April 2013
Number of coffee harvest seasons (to date): Two
Manager: Picasso Juste Nduwayo
The LMCP Bukeye washing station has over 160 committed employees, most of whom call the surrounding coffee hills home. They work tirelessly, in and out of season, to produce the best quality coffee possible.
Fermentation Chief: Jean-Bosco Niyongendako
Head of Security: Laurent Asmani
· Six dedicated quality monitors responsible for cherry selection
· Two farmer reception and cherry collection officers
· An organic composting team (15-20 team members)
· Two seasonal coffee fermentation and production teams (25 members each)
· Eighty women devoted to extensive quality control and artisanal curation of coffee parchment
· Full time Agronomist and Coffee Scout team for farm-level quality control and farmer education
Butaganza Road, Bukeye Commune, Muramvya Province, Burundi, East Africa (S: 03°10.405’ and E: 029°38.775’)
5775 ft (1760 MASL)
Bukeye’s high altitude, moderate climate and close proximity to the Kibira rainforest bring out the potential in each bean. The individual micro-climates of each hill combined with the station’s ideal conditions guarantee unique and exquisite notes in every cup.
The Bukeye washing station has its own borehole water source and a granite-filtered well, ensuring only clean and natural water is used for washing coffee.
The heirloom, Bourbon coffee processed at Bukeye station is available in three styles:
· Traditional Burundian style (fully washed)
· Honey Process
· Sundried Natural style
Bukeye Honey process and Natural style are both 2014 pilot projects. Limited and exclusive micro lots are available.
Pulper: Three Disk McKinnon
Rinsing and Fermentation:
Coffee at Bukeye undergoes extended fermentation—it spends twelve hours in fermentation tanks and is then rinsed for a further six hours. Seven fermentation tanks are available for single or double fermentation depending on roaster preference.
Coffee parchment spends two days on pre-drying tables before it is moved to traditional African raised tables. Bukeye station has 120 tables ranging in length and level; designed to regulate drying times. Parchment is removed from the drying tables when internal moisture reaches an optimal level of 11.5%. Commitment to the perfect moisture level means coffee spends 20-30 days slow-drying.
Farmer group system:
Both individual farmers and coffee cooperative members deliver their coffee cherry to the Bukeye station. Over 600 farmers personally bring cherry to the station and each farmer’s contribution is recorded using the Long Miles farmer card system. This system ensures that Long Miles can trace the best quality coffee and the farmers who grow it right down to hill-level.
The two main cooperatives are Dukomezibikorwa Cooperative (over 1000 members) and CODENI Cooperative (over 200 members). These cooperatives have various collection points where farmers deliver their coffee by hand or bicycle. These collection points shorten the distance farmers have to carry their cherry to meet the Long Miles six hour pick-to-process quality timing mark.
Other crops in the region:
Bananas, Beans, Sweet Potato, Fruit Trees (Avocado and Mandarin), Taro and Cassava.
The Bukeye washing station is a place of innovation. A fulltime agronomist and a team of ‘coffee scouts’ have been pivotal in increasing the quality of coffee through innovative methods and programs. The washing station has been the launching pad for an extensive organic pesticide program which targets Antestia; the insect thought to be responsible for the potato defect. Post-harvest pruning, mulching and fertilizing campaigns also play a vital role in ensuring even better coffee in the seasons to come.
All photos by Long Miles Coffee Project.