Shembati Coffee Washing Station was established in 2017 and serves around 4,000 smallholder producers in the area around Butaganzwa commune in the Kayanza region.
These producers deliver their harvests to the washing station, where it’s processed using a method that the station calls “double fermentation.” The pulp flesh of the fruit is removed, then the cherry is fermented dry for 12 hours, and fermented again for 6-18 hours underwater, before being fully washed. It’s is then soaked for 10-12 hours.
After this, the coffee is placed on tables under shade for 1-3 days, then moved to tables under full sun for a further 12-14 days.
The typical farmer in this area owns less than half a hectare of land. As well as growing coffee, they’ll also grow crops for sale and to feed their household – usually bananas, beans, yams, taro, and cassava.
Due to the small crops, you’ll notice that it’s more common to see washing stations and cooperatives shown as the producer for coffee in Burundi and other African countries.
Unlike Central and South America where landholdings are larger, in Africa most producers do not have the space or financial means to do their own milling and post-harvest production.
Instead, they’ll deliver cherry to a facility that does sorting, blending, and post-harvest processing of day lots to create different offerings, such as the one you’re enjoying.