Almost every inch of Musumba is covered in the silvery-grey of eucalyptus trees. Smoke billows up from the valley below where brick makers are hard at work. Beans and sweet potatoes are prized crops after coffee, as it is grown in large quantities and helps to sustain households’ income throughout the year. Cassava, potato, maize, peas, bananas, onions and tea are also grown by farming families in the hill’s rich soils. The canopies of banana trees that surround farmers’ fields create a cool climate for coffee to grow in.
The 8km journey from Musumba to Bukeye Washing Station is long and tiring. Farmers have to climb up steep hills and back down narrow dirt paths to reach Bukeye. They walk through some of the most beautiful scenery, but have no time to stop and appreciate it, concentrating on the heavy load of cherries resting on their heads. They pass two other washing stations nestled in Musumba’s rolling hills, choosing to travel the distance to Bukeye because with Long Miles they say they have found hope. Unlike most other regions in Burundi, this hill was left almost untouched by war. It was a peaceful island in the midst of cyclical violence and destruction. Despite this, Musumba has been our greatest challenge, with many old coffee trees and run-down farms. Yet, it's a hill we won’t give up on because it holds so much potential.
Bukeye Washing Station has its own borehole water source and a granite filtered well. 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 single fermentation process. Parchment spends around twelve hours dry fermenting. 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 four to six hours in the final rinse tank. The parchment is carried to covered drying tables where it spends between six and fourty-eight 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 sixteen to twenty days slow drying (depending on the weather) until it reaches the desired 10.5% moisture level.