Burundi’s history with coffee is fairly recent. Many washing stations were built by non-profit organizations with little knowledge or understanding of specialty coffee processing and the ability to connect to coffee importers. Ben and Kristy Carlson made the decision to move to Burundi and start the Long Miles project after the realized that the amazing coffee potential of the heirloom Bourbon coffee trees that were planted couldn’t be fully realized without access to more resources.
Long Miles has built multiple washing stations, engages in farmer education through their agronomist and coffee scout programs, and acts as an exporter as well, connecting roasters with amazing coffees that could otherwise be overlooked. The Bukeye washing station was Long Miles’ first, and it’s high elevation and established systems help develop amazing coffees.
In Burundi, many villages are coffee farms are centered around the extremely high elevation rolling hills. Munyinya is an extremely remote coffee hill. Because of how far it is from the washing station, cherry quality had historically been spotty. With the coffee scout and agronomist programs from Long Miles, farmers were able to learn more about proper selection and picking technique, and even began to float their cherries in a river on their way to the washing station, helping sort coffee cherries for quality through an extra step.
By paying extremely high premiums, Long Miles has helped create a base layer of sustainability in the coffee farming profession, and currently employs 160 people at Bukeye alone.