About this coffee
Gakenke station was built in 1991. With 224 dryingbeds, the station can process up to 750 metric tonsper season. The station has 2 fl otation tanks, 10fermentation tanks, and 2 soaking tanks.
Gakenke station has 2,685 registered farmermembers, spread over 22 hills in Gatare commune,Kayanza province. The farmers typically have an average of 250trees.
The washing station participates in a number of farmer outreach and support projects including a livestock rearing project and a range of Farmer Hubprojects centered on strengthening cooperatives andimproving yields.
Harvest & post-harvest
Most coffee trees in Burundi are Red Bourbon for reasons of quality. Because of the increasingly small size of coffee plantings, aging rootstock is a very big issue in Burundi. Many farmers have trees that are over 50 years old, but with small plots to farm, it is difficult to justify taking trees entirely out of production for the 3 to 4 years it will take new plantings to begin to yield. In order to encourage farmers to renovate their plantings, Gakenke purchases seeds from the Institut des SciencesAgronomiques du Burundi (ISABU), establishes nurseries and sells the seedlings to farmers at or below cost.
Despite the ubiquity of coffee growing in Burundi, each smallholder produces a relatively small harvest. The average smallholder has approximately 250 trees, normally in their backyards. Each tree yields an average of 1.5 kilos of cherry so the average producer sells about 200 to 300 kilos of cherry annually.
During the harvest season, all coff ee is selectivelyhandpicked. Most families only have 200 to 250 trees,and harvesting is done almost entirely by the family.
Quality assurance begins as soon as farmers delivertheir cherry. Cherry is wet-processed under constantsupervision. The pulping, fermentation time, washing,grading in the channels and a fi nal soaking are allclosely monitored. All cherry is fl oated in smallbuckets as a fi rst step to check quality. After fl oating,the higher quality cherry is sorted again by hand toremove all damaged, underripe and overripe cherries. Trained agronomists check thebeans by hand regularly to ensure fermentation ishalted at the perfect time.
After sorting, cherry is pulped within 6 hours of delivery. The machine can process up to 3 tons of cherries per hour. During pulping, cherry is separated into high- and low-grade by density on a Mackinon 3-discpulper outfitted with an additional separation disk. The coffee is then fermented in water from anearby stream for 10 to 12 hours, depending on ambient temperature. The station workers trample the parchment for 30 minutes in the fermentation tank. This trampling process helps to remove mucilage from parchment. After this,parchment is washed in clean water and moved in to the washing-grading canal. Parchment will dry slowly for 2 to 3 weeks.
Coffee in Burundi
Burundi has long been overlooked in comparison to its neighboring East African specialty coffee producing powerhouses. However, Burundi season, for us, is one of the highlights of the annual coffee calendar. The country’s coffee is produced almost entirely by smallholder farmers, and much of this small-scale production is of exceptional quality. With its super sweet, clean and often floral coffees, Burundi, every year, is increasingly is putting itself on the specialty coffee map.
Coffee is of paramount importance to families and the country at large. Considering this, improving and expanding coffee infrastructure is not just a way to improve incomes, it is a way to revolutionize the earning potential of an entire nation.
Building washing stations and expanding agricultural extension work can be great ways to improve coffee quality. Washing stations are pivotal in improving cup profile standards and the global reputation of Burundian coffee.
Both state-owned and private actors drive Burundi’s coffee industry and play key roles as washing station management companies and exporters. State-owned companies are called Sogestals, short for “Sociétés de Gestions des Stations de Lavage” (Washing station management companies). Privately-owned companies can operate under a variety of different names.