Long Miles Coffee Project http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com Coffee. People. Potential. Fri, 15 Sep 2017 10:28:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 Summer Coffee Camp http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/summer-coffee-camp/ http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/summer-coffee-camp/#respond Fri, 15 Sep 2017 10:28:36 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6315  





This week our annual Coffee Summer Camp came to an end. Our agronomist, Ephapras, was the visionary behind the camp. When he realized that children were not motivated to learn about coffee, he decided to come up with an innovative way to spark their interest. Back in 2015, he came up with the idea of running a coffee summer camp that could take place during school holidays. Since then, together with the help of our Coffee Scouts, he has been able to motivate hundreds of children to learn about coffee and recognize its value.

The theme for this year’s camp was “Ikawa wacu, kazoza kacu” which means “Our coffee, our future”. One of the major camp activities this year included the Scouts teaching about the Antestia bug and its link to the potato defect. To end off the camp, they took part in a month long Antestia-catching competition. Their response to the competition was incredible and by the end of it they had captured 248 046 bugs!

The camp ended just before the new school year began, so the prizes awarded to our Antestia-fighters included school uniforms, notebooks and stationery sets to encourage them with their future at school. Parents in the community were overjoyed that their children took part in the summer camp, because not only did it keep them occupied during the school holidays but it also empowered them with skills and opportunities. Leaders in the community were also proud that so many children have now taken a new interest in coffee.

We’ve haven’t had 790 children participate in a camp like this before, never mind catch 248 046 bugs. We’re curious to know if this impacts the ecosystem in any way. If anyone has any information on this, we would love to hear about it!

We couldn’t be prouder of all the children who participated in this year’s camp. We are also incredibly grateful to our team who are working extra hard to engage with and empower farmers. If this summer camp has taught us anything, it’s that there is great hope for the future of coffee in Burundi.

Coffee. People. Potential.

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Spes: Burundian Coffee Farmer http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/spes-burundian-coffee-farmer/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 08:22:18 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6297 Burundi, coffee farmer000094320012 000094320013

Life’s best moments often seem to be tucked deep inside the ordinary ho-hum minutes of our days. On Tuesday, the boys and I gave our turtle Popcorn a bath. His name alone makes me smile- one day Ben went out looking for some popcorn (which he couldn’t find anywhere in town) and came back with a turtle. Popcorn’s bath was a simple thing- but to see that turtle’s joy at the vast amount of water before him kind of made my week. That’s strange, I know, but lately I’m realizing it’s all about the little things. Laughing with a friend in the gym, watching an epic rainy season storm roll in, taking a long walk on one of our coffee producing hills, giving myself permission to listen to Christmas music in October… and greeting farmers like Spes.

Spes is one of the first woman coffee farmers I connected with back in 2013 and I love seeing her every coffee season. Greeting her, finding out about how her five children are, talking to her about the future- there is something familial and joyous about seeing the same farmers harvest after harvest. Spes has a small number of trees, only 500, and she’s one of the farmers whose land we have been rejuvinating with new coffee trees.

With new trees comes great responsibility- farmers have to agree to being trained in mulching, fertilizing and pruning practices in order to recieve trees from our nursery. Before the nursery project began our farmers were averageing just 400 grams of coffee cherries per tree and now the average in the hills around our station is 1 kilogram. It’s training alone that has made that difference. We hope, one day, that our farmers will be gleaning 3 kilograms per tree. One day.

Ok, we do get pretty geeky about the coffee trees around here- but seeing transformation is really what this is all about for us.

Follow our #fridayfarmers hashtag on Instagram to see more!

Elizabeth: Burundian Coffee Farmer http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/elizabeth-burundian-coffee-farmer/ http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/elizabeth-burundian-coffee-farmer/#comments Mon, 13 Jun 2016 09:07:37 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6278 burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin, burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin, burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin, burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin,

Have you tasted your coffee before?

“Yes. It’s disgusting. It tastes like medicine!”

What do you hope for your children?

“That someday they will have a life outside of poverty.”

It’s time for a woman’s voice to echo through this portrait series again. Elizabeth is one of the first farmers I remember meeting. She was carrying coffee cherries in a basket on her head into the washing station four years ago- one of our first farmers. She has given us gifts over the years of bananas and beans. It is hard to take Elizabeth’s gifts because we know that she is a widow with six children, but to refuse them would be the antithesis of living in community.

Elizabeth’s life is marked by the loss of her husband. She has had to become the sole provider for her six children since he was killed in the war. Unfortunately, in Burundi widows can loose their land to their husbands’ brother or other male family members after the death of their spouse. Here land is most family’s only lifeline. Thankfully Elizabeth has been able to retain ownership of her land on Gaharo hill and she’s still caring for her family’s 600 coffee trees.

Follow our #fridayfarmers hashtag on Instagram to see more!

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Charles: Burundian Coffee Farmer http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/charles-burundian-coffee-farmer/ http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/charles-burundian-coffee-farmer/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2016 09:30:30 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6256 Long Miles Coffee Project Long Miles Coffee Project

Development begins by picking up a hoe.

Without working these fields,

we will never move forward.


What has made you the happiest in this life?

Being taught by my father how to farm. It is what has sustained me.

Who is your role model in life?

My grandfather. When he left this earth he passed on something to his children. I hope I am able to do the same.

What do you hope for your children?

I hope that they have a good future in agriculture. None of them have had much education. I believe that development begins by picking up a hoe. Without working these fields, we will never move forward.

Have you ever tasted your coffee?

Yes, it’s delicious and sweet!

Charles has been farming coffee since the 1970’s and has 480 trees. Since our washing station opened four coffee seasons ago, he’s been walking from nearby Gaharo hill to deliver his coffee cherries to us.

Follow our #fridayfarmers hashtag on Instagram to see more!

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Evariste: Burundian Coffee Farmer http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/evariste-burundian-coffee-farmer/ http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/evariste-burundian-coffee-farmer/#comments Fri, 27 May 2016 10:00:27 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6240 burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin,burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin,burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin,Have you ever tasted coffee?

“Today was the first time.”

What did you think?

“It is very bitter- but I’m glad you see the value in it!”


During harvest, Evariste walks his coffee cherries 5 kilometers from his home on Musumba hill to our washing station. It’s a long uphill walk to the station. We always huff and puff walking from Musumba to Bukeye- and that’s without 50 pounds of coffee cherries on our backs or our heads!

Until recently, farmers from Musumba hill had to walk across a single felled tree, high above the river, to get to our washing station. This year we were able to replace their single “lane” bridge and partner with the community to build a safe footpath bridge. One day, we’d love to see Musumba with a working bridge for all types of vehicles- but if we’ve learned anything in the last five years it’s that a small start is still a great start.

Evariste has five children and his mantra for them is, “Work hard and learn how to sustain yourself so that you’ll know what to do when I’m not alive.” Like many farmers in Burundi, and maybe like all of us humans, sustainability is at the heart of Evariste’s life.

Follow our #fridayfarmers hashtag on Instagram to see more!

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Ninasi: Burundian Coffee Farmer http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/ninasi-burundian-coffee-farmer/ Fri, 13 May 2016 09:36:44 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6226

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“I tell my children to work hard because it is how we will fight the poverty. My children bring me the most happiness- I have seven of them and they are all farmers too.”

Ninasi’s role model is the person who taught him how to farm. In Burundi, subsistence farming is how most of the population survives. Ninasi has 305 coffee trees and he’s been farming coffee for 15 years. You can taste Ninasi’s coffee in our Musumba hill offerings (Online in the USA at Duluth or Coffee Hound).

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burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin,

burundi coffee, coffee farmer, burundi, specialty coffee, coffee origin,

Follow our #fridayfarmers hashtag on Instagram to see more!

Dorothy: Burundian Coffee Farmer http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/farmer-story-dorothy/ Fri, 06 May 2016 08:33:09 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6202 burundi coffee, long miles coffee, origin coffee, coffee,

Growing Coffee is like raising a child.

You have to wash them, nurture them, and look after them.

We spent part of a Saturday at Dorothy’s house on Gaharo hill. The minute she saw our baby Ari she scooped her up and led our whole family into her home. The dirt floors were cleanly swept and covered in the family’s grass sleeping mats. As her guests, we sat on low wooden stools and she sat on the floor. The only things adorning the cool dirt walls were a picture of Jesus, a plastic rosary, and a small piece of mirror glass. A crowd grew by her open door, entertained as baby Ari grabbed fistfuls of hair belonging to Dorothy’s youngest. We asked her some questions about life and here’s what she said.

Who is your role model in life?

My mom gave me to my grandmother to be raised because she had little means to raise me by herself. My grandmother became the person who taught me about life and the way to live. She taught me everything I know.

What has your biggest challenge in life been?

My biggest challenge in life has been linked to my children. Even after having my first child, I continued to experience pregnancy complications. My third child nearly died. The doctor didn’t think that she would survive the labor, but God intervened and I was able to give birth to a healthy girl.

What will you tell your grandchildren one day about life?

I will teach them about farming. What is most important though is to lead by example. If I pick up a hoe, they’ll follow and also pick up a hoe.

Have you ever tasted your coffee? What did you think?

Yes, when you made it for us. It’s good but it needs sugar.

What is the most difficult part about growing coffee?

It’s not difficult but it takes hard work and diligence. Growing Coffee is like raising a child. You have to wash them, nurture them, and look after them.

Dorothy is 37 and has six children, the youngest pictured with her here. Her family has 54 coffee trees and during harvest she walks the cherries to our Bukeye washing station, just 15 minutes away by foot.

burundi coffee, specialty coffee, coffee, coffee origin

Ari meeting Dorothea, a farmer from Gaharo hill and our friend.


Back To Burundi http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/back-to-burundi/ http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/back-to-burundi/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 07:16:24 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/?p=6174 Two of Anicet's 7 daughters on Mvumvu hill... one of the furthest and most rural hills we work with.

Two of Anicet’s seven daughters on Mvumvu hill… one of the furthest and most rural hills we collect coffee from.

Our Burundi coffee reminds me of lilacs and saddles. Clearly, that’s not an educated flavor or taste profile. I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life in Africa, but these reminders are a nod to my Midwest American roots. I grew up craving everything that had to do with horses. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me a horse but that didn’t stop me from curling up for hours, knees thrown over an arm of our button backed blue velvet living room chairs, reading horse literature. Eventually, we met some lovely horse people and I traded chores for riding time most of my growing up years and even into my 20’s. To me a well-used saddle means warmth, connection, early mornings, pursuits of the heart and solitude- nearly all of my favorite things.

Our baby Ari being carried by Dorothea, a farmer from Gaharo hill and our friend.

Just as I poured over horse literature, my mother poured over flower catalogs. In the middle of February there would be sketches of her summer garden ideas and half completed order slips lying around our house in Minnesota. Complex number and letter combinations written in skinny blanks with blue pen… these always gave me hope. Summer would eventually come, even if it was impossible to believe when standing at six am in the dark at the school bus stop (penguin dancing in an ugly coat to stay warm).


Hope is found in connection. When we connect with others on the journey, it doesn’t seem so scary.

I guess the truth is- to me our coffee tastes like hope and comfort. The hope that summer will eventually come, no matter what February feels like. The comfort that we are pouring ourselves into something that’s worth it, no matter what happens in Burundi. We returned to Burundi as a family in early January. December 11th was a dark day in Burundi. We hadn’t returned yet, choosing to finish out the year in South Africa before coming home, but after December 11th we were reconsidering everything. Friends had bullet holes in their houses. Safety felt too far seperated from everyday reality. From within my ball of fear I found a familiar voice in my head. My friend Janette goes around spouting the line, “There is hope!” like a broken record. Tell her any sad story and she’ll say, “That’s sad but THERE IS HOPE!” Tell her about your worstest darkest awfulest day and, “THERE IS HOPE!” As annoying as this can be, she’s right. There is. There just has to be hope, and it’s there for the choosing. So, on the back of one of Burundi’s darkest days, we began packing.  I don’t call this choice bravery or stupidity (it’s been called both)- I just call it ours. Our choice to be home. Our choice to sink our roots into the soil of Burundi, come what may. Our choice to believe that the One who created the stars has not and will not leave this place or its people.

Harvest, our fourth one, has arrived. Harvest always brings drama with it- the generator breaks, drying tables wash away in a flash flood, the truck bringing in the cooperatives time-sensitive coffee cherries breaks down, there’s a coup d’état. After four years we feel ready for whatever may come (we have an incredible team) and Ben would add “we’re more committed to quality than ever before” but to me that sounds sales pitchy. It’s true, but it’s pitchy. I’d rather you just taste it in the cup- and try to taste the hope and the comfort while you’re at it. Whatever uncertainty you live in. Whatever challenges you are being asked to rise from. Whatever ugly is in this world. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE HOPE and it will find a way to rise.


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Uprooted: Our Burundi Exit http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/burundi-exit-links/ http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/burundi-exit-links/#comments Tue, 09 Jun 2015 10:15:22 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com//?p=6130 Burundi coffee, long miles coffee, long miles coffee project, direct trade

Our exit from Burundi was like molasses falling steady from a spoon, sticky and slow. Lifting ourselves from the land was a process full of attempts to stay. After several years of struggling to call Burundi “home,” now I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the place that had taught me so many of my best life lessons. Oh, the irony.

Burundi coffee, long miles coffee, long miles coffee project, direct trade

The day of Burundi’s coup d’état my kids were at school. I had heard heavy gunfire all morning but after weeks of violent protests, that was nothing new. We had been sending them off to school with the sound of tear gas bombs as their soundtrack. This day was somehow different; suddenly I felt my gut turn and I just knew- the time to get to school was NOW. The women in my family pride themselves on these moments, moments when an “other sense” kicks in with extreme clarity. I think it can also be called common sense but on this day, whatever it was, it served me well.

As we drove home from school, a street to our right was full of protestors heading for a police line. They were chanting and shouting, unleashing themselves in the energy of potential change as police in riot gear steadied themselves for conflict. When we reached the bridge to our neighborhood the police assured me that we could not pass, I assured them that we had to. Panicked motherhood won. What followed was a citywide celebration like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. For the next four hours the city roared with cheers as Major General Godefroid Niyombare rode through town on a tank announcing the end of the current presidency. The following morning there were no cheers, not a sound, besides the heavy artillery of tank fire. Our kids jumped on their trampoline as RPGs sounded off in the background. Eventually, the coup failed.

Burundi coffee, long miles coffee, long miles coffee project, direct trade

“Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold.” 
— W.B. Yeats

Clarity had arrived. We wouldn’t be able to make life in Burundi work for awhile as a family. School could not possibly try to re-open after the coup, and even if they did I knew I wouldn’t be sending my kids. Most of the families at the school had already left and the ten-minute drive to school now felt like a country away, too much could happen between the “here” and the “there” for us to justify school. It was becoming evident after weeks of protests and living day to day, we all craved some stability and routine. We left the city to visit our friends at a mission hospital in the country. We attempted to work and live there for a few days, but it was clear that we couldn’t stay there long term either- as much as we all wanted to.

Burundi coffee, long miles coffee, long miles coffee project, direct trade

With dragging feet, we made the decision to leave Burundi for a few months. With coffee harvest still going strong and an entire team of people devoting themselves to producing our amazing Burundi coffee, we felt broken by our own wise choice. Ben would go back to Burundi after the kids and I settled into our previous home city of Durban, South Africa.

We landed with a thud, and since that thud my kids have taught me what true resilience is. They have jumped into new schools and new routines in a new country without any complaints, which is more than their mother can say. So here we stay, rooted but not, until the dust settles in Burundi and our baby girl (did I forget to mention that?) arrives in August.

Burundi coffee, long miles coffee, long miles coffee project, direct trade

Lately we’ve gotten a lot of emails asking where to buy Long Miles Coffee, thank you for the support. This list is not exhaustive at all, and availability is always changing as our coffees are produced in small lots and only seasonally available. Happy hunting!


Olympia Coffee Olympia WA

Herkimer Seattle WA

Dogwood Coffee Minneapolis MN

Fika Grand Marais, MN

Eiland Coffee Dallas, TX


Cartel Roasters Melbourne


Wild Kaffee Germany/Austria

Burundi coffee, long miles coffee, long miles coffee project, direct trade

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Unlikely Heroes Fighting The Potato Defect http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/heroes-fighting-potato-defect/ http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/heroes-fighting-potato-defect/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 09:07:30 +0000 http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com//?p=6095 Antestia bug, Burundi coffee bug, Long Miles Coffee, Potato defectThe Antestia bug

From far off, the Burundian countryside is a vast expanse of green carpeted rolling hills. Each hill is a distinct geopolitical unit known as a ‘colline’ (‘hill’ in French). Get closer to a colline and a tapestry of patchwork farming appears: a square of banana trees, a patch of cassava, a large section of coffee trees bordered by some maize. Each colline holds a community of between 60 and 140 small holding farmer families. This year, there is something new happening on the hills. Moving between the canopy of coffee trees on each hill is a group of young Burundians, holding bright yellow spray bottles. They are the Long Miles Coffee Scouts.

Armed their unlikely weapons, the scouts wage a battle against the coffee farmer’s greatest and smallest enemy, the Antestia bug. This bug infects coffee cherries with bacteria by drilling a small hole into the skin of the coffee fruit. Once roasted and ground, the infected beans taste like a raw potato. One infected bean has the power to ruin an entire bag of coffee. The rate of infection is sporadic and difficult to trace, sometimes making it a risk for roasters to commit to buying coffee from Burundi. Our goal is to eliminate any trace of the potato defect in our coffees, and we’ve realized we can not do this without the diligence of our scouting team.

Long Miles Coffee ProjectA coffee cherry damaged by the Antestia bug

The Coffee Scouts get their name from their training to find the pesky potato bug by scouting coffee trees. Using an inexpensive and organic pesticide (Pyrethrum) they target spray the Antestia which falls to ground moments later. The Coffee Scouts then collect the paralysed Antestia bugs for research. What makes our scouts extra special is that they were all unemployed youth who now have basic agronomy and data recording skills with the potential to study further and increase their local agricultural knowledge. Our team of Coffee Scouts, under the passionate and creative guidance of our agronomist Epaphrus (who we’ve nicknamed “Epa”), now numbers 14.

Antestia bug, Burundi coffee bug, Long Miles Coffee, Potato defectEpa teaching a farmer about good cherry selection

Our scouts each have 30 “farmer friends” who they visit on a weekly basis. They are committed to helping their 30 farmers understand and use better farming practices- from Antestia capture to mulching, pruning and fertilizing. A few weeks ago, Epa created an Antestia capturing compitition for all the farmers who deliver to the Long Miles station. The reward was 5,000 FBU (about $3.00) for every 100 Antestia bugs captured. The amount of bugs captured was a staggering 14,950 Antestia bugs.

Long Miles Coffee ProjectFabrice, a Coffee Scout, during the Antestia bug skit

With the creation of the Coffee Scout program, coffee farmers surrounding our stations are finally getting the support they’ve desperately needed for so many years. I am so proud of our Antestia fighters. Oh, and they even go around to every hill preforming a hilarious skit about Antestia that at one point affectionatly mocks our very own Mzungu (white guy) Ben. They are a team so worth all the pride we feel.

The great bug hunt continues!

Our Coffee Scouts are currently sponsored by District Roasters

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