Life has a different pace on Nkonge hill. There is a stillness on the hill that is hard to find anywhere else in Burundi. You can walk for stretches on this green carpeted hill without seeing anyone. Dirt roads cut into the hill’s steep slopes, revealing panoramic views of banana trees and lush tea plantations. The high elevation of Nkonge fosters a harder, slower growing coffee bean. Natural springs find their way out of the hill, making sure its soils are always well watered. Patches of onions, tea, wheat, cabbage, maize, cassava and peas can be found growing alongside coffee in the hill’s rich soils. Two of Long Miles farms can be found on Nkonge’s slopes, directly across from Heza washing station. Here, our 5,334 coffee trees are grown alongside our neighbors’ trees.
PROCESSING DETAILS Heza washing station processes its coffee by pumping spring water from a nearby natural spring. During the fully washed process freshly harvested cherries are delivered by coffee farmers to the Long Miles Coffee washing station, then floated and hand-sorted for ripeness upon arrival. The cherries are pulped and undergo a double fermentation process. Parchment spends around 12 hours dry fermenting, then undergoes a 24-hour wet fermentation. The parchment is sometimes ‘footed’ after fermentation. A team will agitate and dance on the slippery coffee parchment by foot, helping to loosen any remaining mucilage clinging to it. It is then rinsed in fresh water, graded by density and left to soak for another 4-6 hours in the final rinse tank. The parchment is carried to covered drying tables where it spends between 6-48 hours pre-drying. During this time, it is hand-picked for under-ripeness, over-ripeness, insect damage and visual defects. It is then moved to traditional African raised tables where it spends between 16-20 days slow drying (depending on the weather) reaching 10.5% moisture level. During the natural process coffee cherries are floated and then hand-sorted, then taken straight to the drying tables. The whole coffee cherry spends between 25-30 days drying in its skin, slowly turning from deep red to a prune-like purple-black color when fully dry, reaching a 10.5% moisture level.
THE SCOUTS Venerande is one of the founding coffee scouts working alongside the coffee farming families on Nkonge hill, teaching them how to take care of their plantations and produce quality coffee. She has been empowering farmers with sustainable farming practices, helping them to understand the importance of planting shade trees, green manures and to seasonally mulch their land and prune the coffee trees. During coffee harvest, she stands side by side with farmers, guiding them through the cherry-picking process. Venerande has also taught farmers how to spot and catch antestia bugs-the colorful critters thought to be linked to the potato taste defect- that hide in the coffee trees.