About the coffee
This is an Anaerobic process lot from the Heza Station. As with many small experiments like this one, this lot is made up of a mix of high quality cherries harvested on the Nkonge, Gitwe and Mutana hills. To accomplish the Anaerobic processing, the coffee was first depulped before being sealed in plastic tanks for 72 hours. The coffee is then washed and dried slowly on raised beds as with Heza’s washed coffees, aiming to reach a moisture level of 10.5% in 20-30 days. In this lot this leads to a juicy and sweet profile with an acidity reminiscent of fresh wild apple cider, backed up by some softened jammy fruit notes.
Blackberry Jam, Raspberry and Apple Cider
Climate change has had an effect on this year’s harvest in Burundi, with conditions straying wildy from established weather patterns. There was a great deal of rain during the flowering season, destroying some of the delicate coffee blossom, and a lack of rain during the ripening season led to reduced yield compared to projections. However, the 2020 harvest was much more successful than an incredibly difficult 2019, with yields up and logistics less disturbed. The Heza station sits at 1960 masl, and due to this the harvest here normally starts around two weeks later than Long Miles’ lower altitude station at Bukeye. This high altitude also leads to impressive views over the Kibira rainforest to Rwanda, which have given Heza its name; Heza means ‘beautiful place’ in Kirundi. Heza was built in January 2014, and now serves nearly 2,000 individual farmers. Heza also helps local farmers by supplying trees from a coffee tree nursery with over 15,000 seedlings, and the intention is to plant these all over the war-torn Burundi countryside in years to come.
Long Miles Coffee Project
The Long Miles Project, founded by Ben and Kristy Carlson, opened its doors in 2013 and aims to raise the bar of specialty coffees coming out of Burundi. The project works with more than 4.500 individual coffee farmers living near two central washing stations, Bukeye, opened in 2013 and Heza, from 2014. There are several reasons why producing speciality coffee in Burundi is an incredibly difficult task. There’s the incredibly unstable political situation, where government can change rules on coffee prices and production seemingly overnight, the geographical constraints that come with being a small landlocked country attempting to export coffee by sea freight, the constant threat of military coup. But through it all the Carlson family have managed to establish themselves as producers and exporters of consistently delicious coffees, all the while providing some semblance of stability to the lives of smallholder farmers that surround their two washing stations in the northern Kayanza Province, near the border with Rwanda. Burundi is a very rural country, with only 13% of the population living in urban areas. Of this rural population, many are smallholder farmers, mainly subsistence with a small production of cash crops, such as coffee. This means that the support provided to these populations by projects like Long Miles is of great importance, and we feel committed to support their work in any way we can.
The coffee is first pulped mechanically, removing most of the fruit, as with a white honey process. The parchment coffee and almost gel-like mucilage are then packed tightly into a small fermentation tank, and sealed with almost no oxygen present. As the fermentation starts to occur, carbon dioxide is produced, creating a completely anaerobic environment, and also high pressure within the tank. This affects coffee flavour in two ways. An anaerobic environment favours a very different set of fermenting bacteria and yeast, leading to a dominant lacto-fermentation. The pressure also forces coffee juices into the seed itself, adding more fermentable sugars to continue the process. The coffee is then dried with the mucilage still attached, as with a honey processed coffee. All of this adds layers of complexity to the final cup.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more