Tasting notes: Complex, grapefruit, earthy, cashew, spice.
Switch-backing up mountainsides and across small, hand built log bridges, visiting Heza washing station can be likened to a great off-road adventure. To say Heza washing station is ‘remote’ would be an understatement and yet the community that lives in the surrounding hills is a special one; comprised mostly of coffee farmers. Heza means ‘beautiful place’ in Kirundi, the local language of Burundi. With panoramic views and an ever-changing East African sky, this washing station lives up to its name.
Heza is the second CCC washing station built by Ben and Kristy Carlson, an American family who see the potential of Burundi coffee and its farmers. It is an important part of the Long Miles Coffee Project, their farmer focused initiative.
Owner(s): Ben and Kristy Carlson
Date of construction: January 2014
Date of opening: April 2014
Number of coffee harvest seasons (to date): 2
Manager: Zéphyrin Banzubaze
Location: Gitwe Hill, Matongo Commune, Kayanza Province, Burundi, East Africa (S: 03°00.429’ and E: 029°35.027’)
Altitude: 6430 ft (1960 MASL)
Heza is built into the face of a cliff overlooking the Kibira rainforest; the border of Burundi and Rwanda. The rainforest looms only 2.4 miles in the distance. The exceptionally high altitude, moderate climate and close proximity to Kibira bring out the best in the coffee both on the trees and at the station. The individual micro-climates of each hill combined with the station’s ideal conditions guarantee unique and exquisite notes in every cup.
Water source: Heza cherries are washed with locally sourced mineral water. Heza has two springs which channel rainforest water down the hills to the station. Crystal-clear spring water is stored at the station and used to pulp, ferment and rinse coffee cherry.
Processing style: The heirloom, Bourbon coffee processed at Heza station is available in three styles:
- Traditional Burundian style (fully washed)
- Honey Process
- Sun-dried Natural style
Pulper: Three Disk McKinnon
Rinsing and Fermentation:
Coffee at Heza undergoes two twelve hour cycles in fermentation tanks and spends a further six hours being rinsed. Fourteen fermentation tanks and seven rinse tanks are available for single or full double fermentation depending on roaster preference. Dry-only coffee is also available.
Heza’s unique ‘bowl’ location provides natural air circulation and controls drying time.Coffee parchment spends two days on pre-drying tables before it is moved to traditional African raised tables. Heza station has 120 tables ranging in length and level; designed to regulate drying times.Parchment is removed from the drying tables when internal moisture reaches an optimal level of 11.5%. Commitment to the perfect moisture level means coffee spends 20-30 days slow-drying.
Farmer group system:
A total of 1876 farmers delivered coffee cherry to Heza washing station in 2014. Over eight hundred of these farmers were individuals who brought cherry to the station and the remaining farmers delivered their cherry to collection points in the region. These collection points shorten the distance farmers have to carry their coffee cherry to meet the Long Miles six hour pick-to-process quality timing mark.
Other crops in the region: Tea, onions and vegetables are Matongo commune’s main production besides coffee. Other crops in the region include beans, sweet potatoes and livestock. Kayanza province is home to two unique fruits—a green variant of passion fruit known as ‘maracudja’ and tree tomatoes.
“During each coffee season we tell farmers to harvest good and ripe cherries because we aim at the highest quality coffee.” –Zéphyrin Banzubaze (Heza station manager)
The Heza washing station is a place of innovation. The fantastic conditions in Kayanza province and the amount of ripe, dense cherries brought to the station have led the CCC - Long Miles team to focus on pioneering a Sun-dried Natural coffee initiative. These natural coffee’s are a style of coffee not commonly offered by other stations in Burundi. Heza washing station is also home to Burundi’s first honey processed coffees.
Added to this, Heza has its own coffee tree nursery distributing over 20,000 trees in its first year and over 25 000 young trees going into the surrounding hills this year. We arebeginning to replace Burundi’s war-torn landscape and invest in the future of quality coffee. 2015 will also see the launch of Heza’s own coffee plantation. Over 6 hectors with 20,000+ Bourbon coffee trees will be planted between rows of indigenous shade tree seedlings.
Harvest period and roaster visitation schedule:
Coffee collection begins in April. By the end of June the last of Burundi’s best cherries arrives at the station. Partner roasters are welcome in our part of the world at any stage during harvest season. A trip to CCC - Long Miles Coffee Project means cupping and sampling exclusive coffee, journeying to the heart of the coffee hills to see production as it happens and meeting the people dedicated to bringing you Burundi’s highest quality coffee.