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Helping Our Brew To Do More Good

by Amy Schmidt on

Have you brewed a cup of our Gishubi Hill-Burundi coffee yet? Known as the Cinderella of coffee (because its hidden, misused, misunderstood, and neglected), Josh Lindstrom, roaster at Fika, describes a cup of Burundi coffee as deep bodied and sweet. "It's top-notch," he says. 

The Burundi coffee we roast comes from farmers working with an organization called the Long Miles Coffee Project. Started by the Carlsons, an American family passionate about producing amazing coffee all while caring for the well-being of the coffee farmers who grow it, Long Miles Coffee Project partners with Burundi farmers, harvesters and scouts to bring this coffee to roasters all over the world.  We are proud to roast their beans and to come alongside the good work they are doing in Africa.

Now, we’re pretty sure you can imagine what a coffee farmer is.  You can probably guess at the work of coffee harvesters, too.  But coffee scouts? If you guessed its someone who travels to farms scouting out the best coffee available for purchase, you’d be half right. Yes, a coffee scout travels from coffee farm to coffee farm.  But they’re not there to scout out who’s got the best looking coffee beans.  They are there to help the farmers grow better coffee.

Once unemployed youth, coffee scouts get their name from their specialized training to scout out a devastating bug called the Antestia.  The Antestia, or potato bug, bores into coffee cherries and injects a bacterium that makes roasted and ground coffee taste like a raw potato.  One infected bean can ruin an entire bag of coffee, and because you can’t tell if a bean has been infected until you brew coffee with it, roasters are hesitant to purchase coffee from Burundi. It’s a simple equation to figure out: no buyer, no income for the farm families whose lives depend on it. 

Long Mile’s goal is to eliminate all traces of the Antestia bug from their farmer’s crop.  The Coffee Scouts are making this challenging task a reality. Armed with an organic pesticide, these coffee scouts visit farms in search of the bug.  If found, the bugs are paralyzed with the pesticide and collected for research.

But that’s not all they do.  Every Long Mile’s Coffee Scouts is trained and certified with basic agronomy skills. Each week, the scouts visit Long Miles farms, building relationships with the families and teaching sustainable farming practices—everything from pruning to mulching and fertilizing.  They’ve even been known to put on hilarious educational skits. 

Together with the Long Miles Coffee Project, the coffee scouts are improving the lives of coffee farmers across Burundi.

Between the months of February to May, Burundi experiences its rainy season.  Over 60 inches of rain in a four-month period is not uncommon.  To work outdoors safely in these conditions, proper rain gear is an absolute necessity.  Unfortunately, quality rain gear is prohibitively expensive for the coffee scouts.  Faced with the choice to stay home and dry or go and get wet (and in turn, potentially ill) these coffee scouts are choosing to go. Without rain gear, their work conditions are, at best, uncomfortable and at worst, deadly.

When we opened our shop in June 2016, we too had a strong ideal to care for the well-being of our employees.  Among other things, this meant paying our workers a fair and livable wage that was not dependent on tips.  We wanted our employees to have a reliable income, regardless of how busy the shop was or how generous our customers were. 

Surprisingly, in the early days of our opening, customers asked regularly about a tip jar.  So, we put one out.  But, instead of going to our baristas, every coin and bill that goes into the jar is saved up to buy rain gear for these scouts.  

We want to see these dedicated coffee scouts clad with top-notch rain gear.  We want to help keep them healthy.  And not just because we love Burundi coffee but because the well-being and livelihood of so many Burundi farmers depends on them and the work they do.

Something as simple as rain gear could positively impact the lives of so many people.

Outdoor Research, maker of high quality outdoor gear, has graciously partnered with us in our efforts, offering a phenomenal deal on the 32 rain suits we are hoping to purchase.   

And as of yesterday, we are almost half-way to our $5000 goal. 

If you’ve been in to our shop, you’ve likely helped us by throwing some change or a few bills into the 'tip jar'.   Your generosity has been mind-blowing and extremely encouraging. Thank you!

But, because so many of our loyal customers don’t make it into our shop, we wanted to put a virtual tip jar out there.  

If you’d like to toss a tip in, contact Josh at Joshua@fikacoffee.com

More information about Long Miles Coffee Project can be found here: www.longmilescoffeeproject.com and an article about the scouts can be found here: http://www.longmilescoffeeproject.com/heroes-fighting-potato-defect/

Thanks for helping Fika Coffee be more than just a roaster of coffee.  Thanks for helping us do something great.

 

 


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