Trader: Collaborative Coffee Source
Exporter: Long Miles Coffee Project
Region: Gitwe Hill, Matongo Commune, Kayanza Province
Cooperative: Long Miles Coffee Project
Washing Station: HEZA
Altitude: 1960 masl
Owners: Ben and Kristy Carlson of Long Miles Coffee
Date of construction: January 2014
Date of opening: April 2014
Number of coffee harvest seasons (to date): Four
Manager: Jeremie Nakimuhana
Quality Control Chief: Picasso Juste Nduwayo
Switch-backing up mountainsides and across small, hand built log bridges, visiting Heza washing station can be likened to a great off-road adventure. To say Heza washing station is ‘remote’ would be an understatement and yet the community that lives in the surrounding hills is a special one, comprised mostly of coffee farmers. Heza means ‘beautiful place’ in Kirundi, the local language of Burundi. With panoramic views and an ever-changing East African sky, this washing station lives up to its name.
Heza is the second washing station built by Ben and Kristy Carlson, founders of Long Miles Coffee. It is an important part of Long Miles, their farmer focused initiative.
Heza is a place of innovation. The fantastic conditions in Kayanza province and the amount of ripe, dense cherries brought to the station have led the Long Miles team to focus on pioneering a sundried natural coffee initiative. Heza washing station is also home to Burundi’s first honey processed coffees.Added to this, Heza has its own coffee tree nursery with over 15 000 young trees. The hope is to begin replacing Burundi’s war-torn landscape and invest in the future of quality coffee.
Heza is built into the face of a cliff overlooking the Kibira rainforest; the border of Burundi and Rwanda. The rainforest looms only 4 kilometres in the distance. The exceptionally high altitude, moderate climate and close proximity to Kibira bring out the best in the coffee both on the trees and at the station. The individual micro-climates of each hill combined with the station’s ideal conditions guarantee unique and exquisite notes in every cup.
Employees: Heza has over 300 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: Roger Ciza Head of Security: Deo Nahimana. Deo works together with 4 guards who are dedicated to ensuring security at the washing station.
A team of over 70 dedicated employees responsible for cherry selection, quality monitoring, farmer reception and coffee production 100 women devoted to extensive quality control and artisanal curation of coffee parchment A coffee scout team dedicated to farm-level quality control and farmer education.
At the peak of harvest, there are over 300 employees daily dedicated to coffee quality control.
Water source: Heza cherries are washed with locally sourced mineral water. Heza has two springs which channel rainforest water down the hills to the station. Crystal-clear spring water is stored at the station and used to pulp, ferment and rinse coffee cherry. We are still crafting ways to increase the water supply, for both the washing station and Heza community.
Processing style: The Bourbon coffee processed at Heza station is available in four styles.
- Traditional Burundian style (fully washed)
- Red and yellow honey process
- Sundried natural style
- Experimental lots (fruit fermentation, yeast fermentation, pre and post fermentiation, etc.)
- Pulper used is a three disc McKinnon
Fermentation, washing, grading, footing and soaking: Coffee at Heza undergoes two types of fermentation – single and double. For single fermentation, parchment spends 12 hours in fermentation tanks without water after which it is rinsed in clean water and graded. It then spends 4-6 hours in soaking tanks before being taken to the pre-drying tables.
For double fermentation, parchment spends 12 hours in fermentation tanks without water and then 12 hours in fermentation tanks with water. The coffee is then ‘footed’ by a group of workers who stomp on the coffee for 15-20 minutes while singing their stomping-songs. The footing is to remove mucilage from the parchment; the singing is to give them the energy to do it. It is then rinsed in clean water the rinsing hannels to increase the density, quality and cleanliness of the beans before being left in the final soaking tanks for 4-6 hours. After this, it is taken to the pre-drying tables.
7 fermentation tanks are available for single or double fermentation depending on roaster preference.
Pre-drying and Drying: Heza’s unique ‘bowl’ location provides natural air circulation and controls drying time.
Coffee parchment spends two days on pre-drying tables. It is moved to traditional African raised tables when the internal moisture reaches an optimal level of 45%. Parchment is then removed from the drying tables when internal moisture reaches an optimal level of 10.5%. Heza station has 76 double drying tables ranging in length
and level, designed to regulate drying times. Commitment to the perfect moisture level means coffee spends 20-30 days slow-drying.
Farmer group system: During the peak of harvest, over 2100 farmers bring their cherries to the station and each person’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.
Harvest period and roaster visitation schedule: Coffee collection usually begins in April and by the end of June the last of Burundi’s best cherries arrive at the station. Partner roasters are always welcome in our part of the world at. A trip to Long Miles Coffee means cupping and sampling exclusive coffee, journeying to the heart of the coffee hills to see production as it happens and meeting the people dedicated to bringing you Burundi’s highest quality coffee.