Our roaster Ludwika is in Burundi, she will be spending six weeks there working at Migoti Hill. Here we share weekly updates on what life is like at the washing station. This week we visit a coffee farm, travel to a dry mill and hike through a tea plantation.
There is a lot (forgive the pun) to be written about the process of dividing coffee into lots and so we will write a future blog post entirely about this subject, once Ludwika is back and we can discuss it all in depth.
This week they had a meeting with software developers to create a system for keeping data about lots, their quantities, dates etc as well as keeping track of cupping scores and tasting notes for each lot.
[meeting with software developers]
The meeting was followed by a delicious dinner:
Cherry continues to arrive daily at the washing station, brought in by either the farmers themselves or people they have paid to carry it in. Here are some pictures of the cherry arriving:
The cherry is sorted initially by eye:
It is also sorted in tanks of water where the dense and best quality cherry sink to the bottom and the less ripe, overripe or defective cherries float to the surface.
The best quality (A grade) will earn a better price and may be combined in special lots or subjected to specialised processing methods (more in a future post) and the rest will be sold as Class B coffee. We will share more about some experimental processing next week!
A coffee plantation
The week started with a visit to a coffee plantation owned by Migoti Coffee Co. This farm is a 40 minute hike from the washing station and located on a hill called Kivungwe.
They are growing their own trees and in doing so showcasing good farming practices.
Ludwika was shown how to grass up around the coffee plants to preserve the nutrition and moisture in the soil. First you weed around the plants:
Then cut grass is spread around them.
After the summer additional nutrients may be added. They are considering adding cows to the land to use their manure for fertilizing. Coffee plants love shade and are commonly grown under banana trees.
Once coffee has been processed, whether it is washed or natural, it needs to be sent to a dry mill before it is ready for export. The coffee is stored at the washing station ‘in parchment’ which is the stage at which the coffee remains covered in a white papery husk. It then needs to go to the mill where the husk is removed mechanically and the beans are cleaned and sorted. It is crucial that beans can be traced through this process so that the lots which are selected are preserved and do not get mixed up. When the coffees get milled, a representative from the washing station remains with the coffee to oversee the process and ensure traceability.
Ludwika travelled with Zephyrin and Pontien from Migoti to visit a dry mill in Gitega, a three hour drive from Bujumbura.
Below are some pictures from the mill.
[workers leaving for lunch, outside the mill]
They will need to decide whether to use this mill or the one they used last year.
The weekends are a time for fun after a hard week of cupping coffees and visiting farms and dry mills. Last weekend, Ludwika joined the Tezatrails event organised and run by Dan and Tambry.
This event involves running, hiking and biking across some gorgeous landscapes including forests
and a tea plantation.
Here are some pictures so that you can enjoy the beauty without the hard work!
Next week we will look closer at some experimental processing methods that they have been working on at the washing station.