Our relationship with Long Miles began when I met Ben at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Annual conference in Atlanta in 2016. We were both familiar with each other’s companies, and the synergy was instant - with a shared passion for attention to every detail of the coffee chain.
Back in Burundi, in 2013, Ben and Kristy built their first washing station, called Bukeye, at the base of Gaharo hill. The area is home to 921 plantations with a total of 104,747 trees (someone had a lot of patience to count them!). The farming families grow tea, beans, sweet potato, cassava, bananas, and taro, in addition to coffee to sustain themselves year-round.
The Bukeye washing station processes coffee from four “hills”: Gaharo, Ninga, Munuinya and Rugoma. This level of coffee lot separation is very rare for East Africa, and is just one of many unique Long Miles initiatives. The list of impressive initiatives seems nearly endless!
Ben reported that this year’s havest was the hardest yet. One imense challenge was a country-wide fuel shortage and if that wasn’t enough, they had well issues and so also water shortages as well! Additionally, the govement outlawed collection points for coffee right before the harvest started, and that meant farmers had to walk up to 15km with their coffee to deliver it. It was truly a harvest of trials and tribulations, but I’m pleased to report that Ben, Kirsty and team surmounted them and managed to produce really outstanding coffee once again.