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 and their coffee farms are centered around the extremely high elevation rolling hills. Gaharo is a hill community of farmers that processes their coffee at the Bukeye washing station. Before Bukeye opened, there wasn’t a washing station that could effectively process their coffees. Even though it can be a long walk to deliver their coffee cherries, Long Miles still pays much higher pricing for farmer’s coffee cherry, which is espeically important given the extremely low yield this year in Burundi due to poor weather and coffee tree disease.
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.