Tasting Box: 01/06

By Evan Howe


Revisiting the Impact of Processing with Two Beautiful Coffees from Burundi

For the final coffee pairing of our inaugural season of Cup Taster’s, we will be tasting two coffees from Burundi, produced by Passenger’s partners at the Long Miles Coffee Project. Founded by Ben and Kristy Carlsen in 2011, Long Miles has been built around the idea that a more progressive and transparent approach to coffee production can contribute to improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers. By connecting small hills of farming communities in rural Burundi directly with roasters in consuming countries, and by highlighting traceability, unique micro-climates, and innovative processing techniques, the Long Miles team has illustrated what a more equitable supply chain can look like in this unique and beautiful country.

The smallest geopolitical units subdividing the provinces of Burundi are referred to as collines. Colline means “hill” in French, and each of the three washing stations that are operated by the Long Miles team receive deliveries of coffee cherries from local communities of coffee farmers who live on the neighboring hills. Microlots that are processed at Long Miles washing stations are separated by hill - meaning that each lot is traceable to the specific hill where the coffee was harvested.

This first coffee in this month’s tasting bears the name of the Heza washing station. Coffees processed at Heza have been presented as one of Passenger’s Foundational offerings since 2016. While our annual Heza selection has come from different hills in different years, it has always been prepared for us by the team at the Heza site - hence the name. This particular Heza offering is composed of coffee harvested on Nkonge Hill and provides a beautiful example of a classic wet processed Burundian flavor profile. As the absence of full dress packaging may have implied, Cup Taster’s members are getting an exclusive “first taste” of our second coffee in the box: an incredibly sweet and fruity dry processed selection from Gaharo Hill. Coffees from Gaharo are processed at Bukeye washing station, the first site that the Long Miles team built in Burundi. As with this Season’s first coffee pairing from Worka Chelbessa, a comparative tasting of this clean and bright wet processed Heza offering alongside the jammy, fruit-forward dry processed Gaharo lot underlines the huge impact that processing approach can have on flavors in the cup. In the video that accompanies this month’s tasting, we’ll discuss these contrasting flavor profiles in more detail, with a particular emphasis on the sensory categories of sweetness and body.