Long Miles Coffee Project is Ben & Kristy Carlson, an American family living in Burundi, passionate about producing amazing coffee and caring for the well-being of the farmers that grow it. The result is a story of beautiful coffees, meaningful relationships & a thriving farming community in the heart of East Africa.
Two rivers and a province border lie between Bukeye washing station and the hills of Ninga. The community is far beyond the reach of electricity. Even the glass bottles of coca-cola that usually find their way into tiny roadside shops are difficult to find on Ninga. Coffee trees occupy any space they can on this hill - from the edge of the single track dirt paths that weave through the hills to the doorsteps of farmers’ self-made mud brick houses.
With every violent conflict that has broken out in Burundi, Ninga farmers have scattered into the surrounding hills and forest areas with no established place of refuge to run to. During these times the coffee trees have gone into hibernation mode, waiting for their owners to return. Many decades later, farmers return home and try to combat the effects that years of neglect have had on their land. Yet, Ninga hill produces elegant and complex coffees, with flavors that are layered and not at all muddled. Our commitment to working more closely with this hill has never been stronger.
CHALLENGES: Some farmers have to travel as far as 22km along steep, narrow dirt paths to reach Bukeye. During Burundi’s rainy season, these roads become hard to navigate, making this distance feel even further. This year Ninga faced great adversity. Farmers were beaten en-route to delivering their cherries and hand-written threat notes were sent our way. It’s almost as if Ninga echoes life and redemption because the hill produces some of the most beautiful coffee despite the challenges it faces.
THE SCOUTS: Chantal and Salvator are the two coffee scouts that work alongside Ninga farmers every day. Because farmers already grow beautiful coffee, the two scouts focus mainly on teaching selective cherry picking and sorting. To make the coffee even better, they are also teaching farmers to plant green manures and shade trees in their farms to reduce the acidity of the soils and create a cooler, more stable environment for the coffee to grow in.
FUTURE: Farmers on Ninga dream that Long Miles will build another washing station closer to the hill they call home.