BLACK CURRANT, STRAWBERRY, HIBISCUS, MAPLE SYRUP, MILK CHOCOLATE
620 smallholder farmers of Bumba hill organized around the Ninga Coffee Washing Station
Local bourbon cultivars
Kayanza Province, Burundi
April - July
Ninga Coffee Washing Station is the third and most recent processing site built by Long Miles Coffee Project (LMCP). In 2013 LMCP built Bukeye, its first processing station, in nearby Muramvya province. As Bukeye’s popularity grew, the incoming volume of cherry began to outstrip the capacity of the station; farmers from far away communities were traveling long distances, many more than 3 hours by foot, to deliver. In 2017 the LMCP group bought a piece of property on Ninga, one of the regional hills whose farmers were traveling the furthest to Bukeye. After multiple years of regulatory delays, the Ninga coffee washing station was finally opened to farmers and processed its first trial naturals. Today the Ninga station services farmers from 3 nearby hills: Ninga, Bumba, and Giku. It also produces washed, natural, honey, and anaerobically fermented coffees. This lot is an anaerobic honey process lot from participating farmers across Bumba hill.
LMCP is a microlot business. All of their infrastructure, systems, employees, and marketing are designed to support large numbers of unique and fully traceable coffees. Doing so in Burundi is especially difficult because farms produce very little cherry and are scattered across broad landscapes. They are also numerous, requiring the successful coordination of hundreds of farmers and processing staff just to produce a single differentiated lot. Importantly, such an effort requires sustainable prices to support, so the coffee itself needs to be as delicious as possible. Fortunately LMCP excels at identifying landscapes and communities with potential, and investing heavily in farmer livelihood. With this formula they are easily producing many of the country’s best coffees each year.
LMCP organizes their farmer base by the hills they live on, designating delivery days of the week for each microregion. This is common practice for processors in Burundi, but unlike most, LMCP separates every hill and delivery day until processing is complete and a quality assessment has been made. Contributing farmers from Bumba hill are registered partners with LMCP and receive not only highly competitive prices and post-harvest premiums for their cherry, but also farm- level trainings covering canopy and fertilizer development, pruning, harvesting for quality and integrated pest management. Farmer trainings are all provided by local “Coffee Scouts”, LMCP’s team of community-based trainers who serve as local instructors. The education and high prices combined have helped many of LMCP’s farmers renew their faith in coffee as a long-term livelihood. Long Miles works with a total of 5,500 farmers between their 3 washing stations, servicing 11 different hills.
“Anaerobic”, or low-oxygen styles of fermentation, have been carried out for the past 3 harvests by LMCP’s processing teams. For this lot, cherry from Bumba farmers was floated and hand-sorted for maximum ripeness upon delivery to Ninga. Once the cherry was depulped the fresh, gooey parchment was packed into Afri-tanks, large plastic drums normally used for storing potable water. Once sealed, the parchment is left to ferment for 36-72 hours. After fermentation is complete the parchment is removed and treated to the same remaining steps as a standard fully-washed coffee at all of LMCP’s stations: it is washed clean and graded by density in long concrete channels, and finally moved to raised beds to dry in the sun, which typically takes 16-20 days.
The resulting cup profile is a subtle twist on an otherwise excellent fully washed process—think a slight syrupy enhancement to the body, and a slight transformation from stone fruit to tropical fruit flavors than one would expect from a high-quality washed coffee from Long Miles. If you’re already familiar with their washed coffees, the anaerobics are worth a try.